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Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

Volume 194 of the series Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology pp 29-54

Mercury in the San Francisco Estuary

  • Christopher H. ConawayAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Toxicology, University of California
  • , Frank J. BlackAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Toxicology, University of California
  • , Thomas M. GriebAffiliated withTetra Tech, Inc.
  • , Sujoy RoyAffiliated withTetra Tech, Inc.
  • , A. Russell FlegalAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Toxicology, University of California

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Ever since the recognition of mercury as an environmental problem, San Francisco Estuary has been an active area of mercury research. It is little wonder that this is so: the estuary is in the middle of a region of mercury mineralization and historic mercury mining, and it is downstream of an area of historic gold mining where millions of kilograms of mercury were used. It is also a heavily urbanized area that once featured chloralkali facilities and numerous shipyards potentially contaminated with mercury-based paints. In addition, it is a drainage area for rich agricultural regions that may have seen substantial environmental applications of mercury insecticides and fungicides. In this review, we present a survey of literature on mercury contamination and biogeochemistry focusing on San Francisco Estuary. Our intent is to stimulate scientific questions addressing mercury contamination in this and other estuarine systems, as well as to describe the restoration and management efforts that accompany mercury-contaminated sites.