Meg Sedlak's picture

Meg Sedlak

Senior Program Manager
Clean Water Program
Bay Regional Monitoring Program
510-746-7311

Meg Sedlak received a B.A. degree in Geology from Carleton, College in Northfield, MN and a M.S. degree in Water Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her master’s thesis was a study of the dehalogenation of polychlorinated biphenyls in sediments. Prior to joining SFEI in 2004, Meg Sedlak worked for an engineering consulting firm providing assistance to industrial clients on regulatory compliance issues and fate and transport modeling. Ms. Sedlak also has held positions at: the Swiss Federal Institute of Environmental Science and Technology where she conducted laboratory research on the fate of tributyltins; Resources for the Future where she evaluated environmental policies on hazardous waste; and the US Forest Service where she served as a trail ranger in the Chugach National Forest (Alaska). At SFEI, Ms. Sedlak assists with the management of the Regional Monitoring Program.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Monitoring San Francisco Bay for microplastics - photo by Plus M Productions

Microplastic Pollution in San Francisco Bay and Adjacent Marine Sanctuaries (Project)

Plastic pollution is gaining global recognition as a threat to the resilience and productivity of ocean ecosystems. However, we are only just beginning to understand the scope and impacts of microplastic particles (less than 5 mm) on coastal and ocean resources, and the San Francisco Bay Area is no exception. A preliminary study of nine water sites in San Francisco Bay, published in 2016, showed greater levels of microplastics than the Great Lakes or Chesapeake Bay.

These scientists want you to rethink how you use plastics: SFEI and 5 Gyres issue a new video (News)

The short (3-min) video summarizes the goals of the SF Bay Microplastics Project, which aims to better understanding the distribution of microplastic in San Francisco Bay and adjacent National Marine Sanctuaries, the pathways by which these contaminants enter the Bay, and possible means of controlling their release. 5 Gyres and San Francisco Estuary Institute are collaboratively carrying out the project.

Photograph: Getty Images

Wired Magazine: A new report shows an astounding amount of microplastics, largely from car tires, are tainting the watershed (News)

Matt Simon from Wired Magazine writes:

San Francisco Bay, like Monterey Bay to its south, is a rare success story in ocean conservation. In the 1960s, three grassroots activists—Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr, and Esther Gulick—launched Save the Bay, which beat back developers trying to fill in parts of the iconic body of water.

Photograph: Sebastian Kennerknecht/Alamy

The Guardian publishes on article on SFEI's microplastics study, further extending the report's reach (News)

Maanvi Singh from the US edition of the Guardian, based in the UK, writes, “It was basically everywhere we looked,” said Rebecca Sutton, an environmental scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a local institution that led the three-year, $1.1m research effort.

Groundbreaking SFEI and 5 Gyres microplastics study featured in multiple media outlets (News)

Concurrent with a sold-out symposium on Oct 2nd, several media outlets, including the Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times, have released the articles relating the alarming findings regarding the pervasive presence of microplastics in our surface waters. The issue of microplastics is global in nature. However, the advances in understanding the magnitude of the problem are happening regionally through partnerships with 5 Gyres, the University of Toronto Trash Team, and other notable leaders.

Image by Ruth Askevold

2019 Symposium on San Francisco Microplastics (Event)

The San Francisco Estuary Institute and the 5 Gyres Institute have completed a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive regional study of microplastic pollution of a major urban estuary and adjacent ocean environment.

The Latest RMP Emerging Contaminant Strategic Plans (News)

The SFEI Emerging Contaminant team, led by Dr.

RMP Update (Project)

The Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay is an innovative collaboration of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the regulated discharger community, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. It provides water quality regulators with the information they need to manage the Bay effectively. The Program issues a report each year, the Pulse of the Bay in odd years and the RMP Update in even years.

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) (Project)

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a broad class of fluorine-rich specialty chemicals. More than 4,700 PFAS are used in consumer, commercial and industrial applications, including food packaging materials, waterproof textiles, stain-resistant carpets and furniture, fire-suppression foams, processing aids for the production of fluoropolymers like Teflon, mist suppressants in metal-plating, and hydraulic aviation fluids. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have been shown to be highly toxic and have been phased out of production in the US.

Contaminants of Emerging Concern Strategy (Project)

More than 100,000 chemicals have been registered or approved for commercial use in the US. For many of these chemicals, major information gaps limit evaluations of their potential risks, and environmental monitoring of these chemicals has not been required by regulatory agencies. Nevertheless, researchers and government agencies have begun to collect occurrence, fate, and toxicity data for a number of these chemicals.

El Cerrito Rain Garden

SFEI Science at International Marine Debris Conference (March 12-16) (News)

SFEI science will feature prominently at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego next week:

Microplastic Pollution (Project)

The RMP has conducted initial studies of microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay. Findings from a 2015 screening-level RMP study of microplastic pollution in our Bay show widespread contamination at levels greater than other U.S. water bodies with high levels of urban development, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Wildlife consume microplastic particles; ingestion can lead to physical harm, and can expose aquatic organisms to pollutants like PCBs that the plastics have absorbed from the surrounding environment.

Image from KQED

Hunting for Plastic in California’s Protected Ocean Waters (News)

Rebecca Sutton, Meg Sedlak, and Diana Lin of SFEI, in partnership with Carolynn Box of 5 Gyres, conducted ocean water sampling associated with an ambitious project. The project is focused on determining the characteristics and fate of microplastics in the Bay and adjacent ocean waters. KQED reporter Lindsey Hoshaw published a story covering the team's activities along the California coast. After determinng that the Bay has greater than expected microplastic pollution, the science team, as reported by Hoshaw's story, is conducting further ground-breaking research.

Non-Sticks Stick Around: Estuary News highlights findings from new RMP study (News)

Estuary News writer Kristine Wong interviewed SFEI’s Meg Sedlak, lead scientist on the latest RMP study to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, to learn more about the problems associated with a persistent class of fluorinated contaminants known as PFASs.

RMP Completes Major Revision of its Strategy to Monitor Emerging Contaminants (News)

Global leaders in the study of emerging contaminants, the stakeholders that make up the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) believe that preventing a pollution problem is safer and more cost-effective than cleaning one up. For this reason, the RMP focuses on monitoring contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs.

SFEI scientists process microplastic samples collected from San Francisco Bay.

Local News: Scientists launch major study of microplastics pollution in San Francisco Bay (News)

SFEI and The 5 Gyres Institute have launched an ambitious two-year research project to monitor San Francisco Bay for pollution in the form of tiny particles of plastic pollution, reports ABC7 News. These microplastic particles are eaten by local fish, according to previous studies, which can expose them to harmful contaminants. 

New Microplastic Pollution Study to Launch in San Francisco Bay and Adjacent Ocean Waters (News)

A two-year investigation on microplastic and nanoplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay and the surrounding ocean will launch this month, led by two research centers, the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the 5 Gyres Institute.

RMP Keys to Success Highlighted in Two Manuscripts (News)

RMP Keys to Success Highlighted in Two Manuscripts

Guest Speaker: Dr. Sarah Diringer on mercury contamination in rainforests of Peru (Event)

A recent report from The Guardian suggests a "chronic mercury epidemic" in Peru. Dr. Sarah Diringer visits SFEI to share her new findings on the impacts of gold mining and deforestation on mercury mobilization in the Peruvian rainforest. Join us!

Title: Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) exacerbates soil and heavy metal mobilization in Peru

PBDEs in San Francisco Bay: A Summary Report (Project)

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a group of flame retardant additives used in thermoplastics, polyurethane foam, and textiles. These diphenyl ethers possess one to ten bromine atoms; although 209 congeners are possible, only some of these are manufactured or result as degradation products. The three commercial mixtures of PBDEs, each named for the bromination level of its dominant components, are "PentaBDE," "OctaBDE," and "DecaBDE."