Caffeine in Boston Harbor seawater

Mar Pollut Bull. 2002 May;44(5):383-7. doi: 10.1016/s0025-326x(00)00176-4.


Caffeine has been detected in Boston Harbor seawater with concentrations ranging from 140 to 1600 ng l(-1), and in Massachusetts Bay seawater at concentrations from 5.2 to 71 ng l(-1). Sources of caffeine appear to be anthropogenic with higher concentrations in the seawater of Boston's inner harbor and in freshwater sources to the harbor. Charles River water and Deer Island sewage treatment plant effluent, the two major sources of freshwater to the harbor, contained 370 and 6700 ng l(-1) of caffeine, respectively, in 1998. Sewage influent and effluent concentrations appear to be consistent with consumption estimates of caffeinated beverages for the Boston area and total organic carbon removal targets for treated sewage. Caffeine was inversely correlated to salinity in a transect from the mouth of Boston Harbor to Stellwagen Basin, indicating it may be a useful chemical tracer of anthropogenic inputs to marine systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beverages
  • Boston
  • Caffeine / analysis*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Sewage / chemistry
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Sewage
  • Water Pollutants
  • Caffeine
  • Sodium Chloride