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Environmental Health Science Headlines

Two scientists on an electrofishing boat

Long-Term Study Finds Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Urban Waterways

USGS scientists determined that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were present in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent, water, and fish tissue in urban waterways in the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi River Regions ...

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USGS scientists collecting a water-quality sample

Federal and State Partnerships Advance Understanding of Contaminants in a Human-Health Context

Partnerships between the USGS and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) enhance the State's ability to evaluate human-health risks from chemicals of concern (CECs). ...

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USGS Scientist collecting water samples in a stream

Assessing Environmental Chemical Mixtures in United States Streams

The USGS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are collaborating on a field-based study of chemical mixture composition and environmental effects in stream waters affected by a wide range of human activities and contaminant sources. ...

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Three sample bottels with cultures of hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria

Microbiology and Chemistry of Waters Produced from Hydraulic Fracking—A Case Study

A new USGS study determined that the microbiology and organic chemistry of produced waters varied widely among hydraulically fractured shale gas wells in north-central Pennsylvania. ...

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USGS sceintists sampling groundwater

Personal Care Products, Pharmaceuticals, and Hormones Move from Septic Systems to Local Groundwater

Pharmaceuticals, hormones, personal care products, and other contaminants of concern associated with everyday household activities were found in adjacent shallow groundwater near two septic system networks in New York (NY) and New England (NE). ...

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Girl drinking water

Groundwater Quality in Principal Aquifers of the United States, 1991—2010

A new USGS report summarizes the major findings of national and regional assessments of groundwater quality in 40 Principal Aquifers in the United States. ...

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Electron micrograph of channel catfish macrophages - 42TA cell line

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) White Blood Cells are Functionally Modulated by Estrogens

Estrogens are recognized as modulators of immune responses in mammals, but how these effects might occur in fish was not understood. USGS scientists published findings that fish white blood cells (leukocytes) have specific estrogen receptors (ERs)—a discovery that moves scientists one step closer to understanding the connection between exposure to estrogenic substances and disease susceptibility in fish. ...

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USGS scientist takes a sample from a northern pintail duck

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected for the First Time in Wild Birds in North America

Scientists from the USGS are helping to track the movement of three strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) in wild birds. HPAI viruses are a concern as they are very pathogenic to poultry and some species of wild birds such as raptors. Infection can result in significant mortality of poultry and impact international trade of poultry products. In addition, ...

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Power plant smoke stacks

Comprehensive Assessment of Mercury in Streams Explains Major Sources, Cycling, and Effects

A new USGS report, Mercury in the Nation's Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications, presents a comprehensive assessment of mercury contamination in streams across the United States. It highlights the importance of environmental processes, monitoring, and control strategies for understanding and reducing stream mercury levels. ...

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USGS scientist sampling a public-supply well

Public-Supply Well Pumping Regimes Influence Quality of Water Produced

USGS scientists studying the vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination have identified ways in which the seasonal operation of public-supply wells can affect the quality of water that they produce.  By incorporating historical water-quality data into models of ...

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USGS Hydrologist sampling a public supply well

Contaminant Transport Models Aid in Understanding Trends of Chlorinated Ethenes in Public Supply Wells

USGS scientists used a mass–balance solute–transport model to enhance an understanding of factors affecting chlorinated ethene (CE) concentrations in a public supply well. They found that long–term simulated and measured CE concentrations were affected by dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) volume, composition, and by ...

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Three scientists holding a sediment core. The core is in a plastic tube

Natural Breakdown of Petroleum Results in Arsenic Mobilization in Groundwater

Changes in geochemistry from the natural breakdown of petroleum hydrocarbons in groundwater promote mobilization of naturally occurring arsenic from aquifer sediments into groundwater. This geochemical change can result in potentially significant and overlooked arsenic groundwater contamination. Arsenic is ...

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Photo on top has healthy sea stars. Photo on bottom is a sick one

Densovirus Calculated as Culprit Killing Sea Stars

A prime suspect has been identified as a probable cause of the "Sea Star Wasting Disease," a mysterious epidemic that has been killing these animals in droves along the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coast. ...

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Spirit Creek, Georgia

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Persist Downstream from the Source

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were transported 2 kilometers downstream of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) outfall in a coastal plain stream. EDCs persisted downstream of the outfall with little change in the numbers of EDCs and limited decreases in EDC concentrations. ...

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USGS scientist preparing water samples for glyphosate analysis

Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory Scored High on Proficiency Testing for Glyphosate

In a recent inter–laboratory comparison of 28 international laboratories, the USGS Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory (OGRL) scored A's for the analysis of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in this proficiency testing. ...

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Scientists measuring field water-quality parameters

Land Disposal of Wastewater Can Result in Elevated Mercury in Groundwater

Field studies conducted in the United States have shown that mercury concentrations in groundwater affected by wastewater disposal can exceed the drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (2 micrograms per liter of water, µg/L). Two recently published reports by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Maine, and the USGS help to explain what can lead to elevated mercury levels in groundwater. ...

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USGS scientists Dr. Michael T. Meyer in the labortory

Recognition for a USGS Scientist in Service to Others

USGS scientist Dr. Michael T. Meyer has had a prolific career, publishing 60 journal articles and 45 USGS publications. Mike's publication record has recently led to his designation as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, ranking among the top 1 percent of researchers from 2002 to 2012 for most cited documents in their specific field (Environment/Ecology). ...

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USGS sampling truck with equipment used to sample well water. A scientist is in the truck

Commonly Used Chemicals Measured in Minnesota Groundwater

A team of USGS and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MCPA) scientists measured 127 organic chemicals in groundwater underlying urbanized areas in Minnesota. These chemicals include ones commonly used and consumed in our daily lives, in products such as human–use and veterinary pharmaceuticals, fragrances, surfactants, plastic components, and fire retardants. The chemicals are often called "chemicals of emerging environmental concern" because the risk to ...

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Three technicians operating a drill rig

Arsenic in Minnesota Groundwater

USGS and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) scientists are assessing the distribution of arsenic in groundwater in Minnesota. Naturally occurring arsenic is common in groundwater in Minnesota. About ...

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Map of the United States with symbols indicating which aquifers had increases or no change

Small Decadal–Scale Changes in Pesticides in Groundwater

USGS scientists have completed the most comprehensive evaluation to date (2014) of decadal–scale changes in pesticide concentrations in groundwater of the United States. Such assessments are essential for tracking long–term responses to changes in pesticide use and land–management practices. ...

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