Contaminant Biology


Science Centers and scientists supported by Contaminant Biology develop and apply advanced laboratory methods, field investigations, and modeling capabilities to understand toxicity and effects of environmental contaminant and pathogen exposure.  They are integrated in the Ecosystems Mission Area as the Environmental Health Program with science centers and scientists supported by Toxic Substances Hydrology who determine sources, movement, and exposure pathways of contaminants in the environment.

Featured Science Activities

Featured Science Activities

Our Featured Science Articles highlight Environmental Health Program science activities.

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The GeoHEALTH–USGS Newsletter—published since 2004—provides information on USGS science activities pertinent to safeguarding the health of fish, wildlife, domesticated animals, and people from environmental exposures to contaminants and pathogens.

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July 16, 2021

GeoHEALTH-USGS Newsletter, July 2021

The GeoHEALTH–USGS Newsletter—published since 2004—provides information on USGS science pertinent to safeguarding the health of fish, wildlife, domesticated animals, livestock, and people from environmental exposures to contaminants and pathogens. The research is supported by the Environmental Health Program of the Ecosystems Mission AreaClick here for past issues.

Date published: May 27, 2021

Inorganic and Organic Chemical Mixtures Detected in both Public and Private Tap Water in Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Multiple detections of regulated and unregulated chemical (inorganic, organic) analytes or elements were detected in both privately and publicly supplied tap water samples from 20 residences in Cape Cod, Massachusetts that share a common source of water.

Date published: May 25, 2021

Long-Term Monitoring Reveals How Water and Biota in Remote Lakes Respond Differently to Changes in Atmospheric Deposition of Mercury

A comparison of regional mercury atmospheric deposition data with water, yellow perch, and dragonfly larvae samples from lakes in Voyageurs National Park indicates that decreases in mercury emissions resulted in mercury reduction in water from these remote lakes, but mercury declines in biota were significant in only one of three lakes.


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Year Published: 2020

Freshwater neurotoxins and concerns for human, animal, and ecosystemhealth: A review of anatoxin-a and saxitoxin

Toxic cyanobacteria are a concern worldwide because they can adversely affect humans, animals, and ecosystems. However, neurotoxins produced by freshwater cyanobacteria are understudied relative to microcystin. Thus, the objective of this critical review was to provide a comprehensive examination of the modes of action, production, fate, and...

Christensen, Victoria; Khan, Eakalak

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Year Published: 2020

Standardized guide to the examination and necropsy of the horseshoe crab using Limulus polyphemus as Limulidae prototype

The Atlantic, or American, horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) has existed largely unchanged for over 100 million years. Millions of individuals are commonly observed ashore in spring and summer months during spawning events along the entire North American coastline expanding from the East to the Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico. Other...

Roorda, Katie; Arnold, Jill; Meteyer, Carol; Whitaker, Brent

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Year Published: 2020

Malignant melanoma of Brown Bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) in Lake Memphremagog, Vermont/Quebec

In 2012, brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) with large, raised, black growths were first reported from multiple areas within the Vermont portion of Lake Memphremagog. Subsequent surveys conducted from 2014 to 2017 at two sites within the lake indicated a prevalence of 30% in adult brown bullhead 200 mm and above total length. These lesions...

Blazer, Vicki S.; Shaw, Cassidy H.; Smith, Cheyenne R.; Emerson, P; Jones, Thomas R.