Chemical Contaminants

Almost three-quarters of the Bay’s tidal waters are impaired by pesticides, pharmaceuticals, metals and other chemicals, which can harm the health of both humans and wildlife.

FAQ

Terms

  • Bioaccumulation

    The uptake and storage of chemical contaminants by living animals and plants. This can occur through direct contact with contaminated water or sediment or through the ingestion of another organism that is contaminated. For example, a small fish might eat contaminated algae, a bigger fish might eat several contaminated fish and a human might eat a bigger, now-contaminated fish. Contaminants typically increase in concentration as they move up the food chain.

  • Chemical contaminants

    Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, metals and other toxic substances that can harm the health of both humans and wildlife.

  • Pesticides

    A general term that describes the chemical substances used to destroy or control insect or plant pests. Many pesticides are manufactured and do not occur naturally in the environment. Others are natural toxins that are extracted from plants and animals.

  • Pharmaceuticals

    Compounds manufactured for use as medicinal drugs.

  • Pollution

    The introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment.

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

    A chemical contaminant that was once used as a flame retardant in electrical equipment. Though their production has been banned since 1977, PCBs persist in the environment, posing a risk to humans and wildlife.

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