Baykeeper Update

Improving Cleanup of PCBs in the Bay

This week Baykeeper advocated for the Regional Water Board to strengthen the cleanup plan for PCBs in the Bay by reining in contaminated discharges from municipal and industrial waste water. The Regional Board’s existing proposal maintains inadequate standards for limiting PCBs, and it's based on insufficient data. If the Bay is to recover from its PCBs impairment, the cleanup plan needs to require improved data collection and better guidelines for reducing pollution from cities and industrial facilities.

The sediments of San Francisco Bay are highly contaminated with PCBs, a potent carcinogen and legacy pollutant that is often concentrated in toxic "hot spots." Many species of fish in the Bay are unsafe for human consumption due to high levels of PCBs, which also endangers wildlife such as harbor seals that eat Bay fish.

PCBs were originally used in a wide variety of products such as electrical transformers, paints, grease, fluorescent lights and building materials. Production of the chemical was banned in the United States in 1979 over toxicity concerns, but PCBs are highly stable compounds that can persist in the environment for many years.

Baykeeper will continue to monitor the issue and advocate for better cleanup of toxic pollutants in the Bay.