Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in cormorants and terns has fallen by 74-93% in a decade

Levels of the flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have dropped dramatically in the wildlife of the San Francisco Bay since government regulations led to an industry phase-out a decade ago. Action was taken on PBDEs in the US when evidence emerged that the chemicals can bioaccumulate and may be toxic.

In 2003, California passed the first state-wide ban on PBDEs that covered octaBDE and pentaBDE. Shortly thereafter, manufacturers of pentaBDE and octaBDE agreed to voluntarily cease producing them. In 2006, the US Environmental Protection Agency passed a rule banning pentaBDE and octaBDE production.

The study by the San Francisco Estuary Institute found that PBDE levels in cormorants and terns in the bay declined by 74–93%, and levels in sport fish had fallen by nearly half. In addition, the researchers determined that levels of these chemicals in mussels and bay sediment had fallen significantly.