U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Environmental Health Science Headlines

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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Two pie charts. Left one - percent type of benchmark. Right one – percent chemical class

USGS Health-Based Screening Levels Available Online

A U.S. Geological Survey USGS Health-Based Screening Level (HBSL) Web site includes human-health benchmarks for 351 contaminants (79 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), 117 EPA Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides (HHBPs), and 155 USGS HBSLs). The Web site also provides ...

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A USGS scientist prepares a tracer solution in a gas-tight bladder

Chemicals Found in Treated Wastewater are Transported from Streams to Groundwater

USGS scientists studying a midwestern stream conclude that pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in treated wastewater effluent discharged to the stream are transported into adjacent shallow groundwater. Other mobile chemicals found ...

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Road damage caused by flooding

Disasters and Environmental Health

USGS scientists are focusing on new efforts to help protect human and environmental health during disasters. Two papers published recently summarize important characteristics of materials released into the environment by natural and anthropogenic disasters, such as ...

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Latham River at Jekyll Island State Park, Georgia

Nutrient Inputs to the Nation's Estuaries and Great Lakes

Maps and data tables that describe nutrient loading to major estuaries throughout the conterminous United States are now available ...

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View of forest stream with inset of human ear with chiclero's ulcer

Does Biodiversity Protect Humans Against Infectious Disease?

Might biodiversity be healthy for the ecosystem and also protect people against infectious diseases? While most disease ecologists would say yes, a new study published in Ecology presents data suggesting that the balance between biodiversity and infectious disease is more complicated. ...

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Dead bald eagle

Winter Eagle Deaths at Great Salt Lake due to West Nile Virus

Scientists from the USGS diagnosed West Nile Virus (WNV) in numerous eared grebes and bald eagles that died in a 2013 mortality event in the Great Salt Lake. Diagnoses were based on findings during pathological analysis to ...

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Wing of a bat in UV light with orange-yellow fluorescence spots

Black-Light Detects White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

USGS scientists and collaborators discovered that long-wave ultraviolet (UV) light directed at the wings of bats with white-nose syndrome (WNS) produced points of distinctive orange-yellow fluorescence. The orange-yellow glow corresponds directly with microscopic skin lesions that ...

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Page Last Modified: October 01 2014 09:42:23