Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Featured Science Activities

Our science activities are summarized in a series of feature articles that highlight recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) environmental health science activities. They are short summaries of peer-reviewed journal articles and USGS reports co-authored by our specialized teams of scientists.
Older featured science activities are on our old Web site.

Filter Total Items: 98
Date published: May 12, 2016
Status: Completed

Iodinated Disinfection Byproducts found in Dairy-Impacted Wastewaters and Streams

Iodinated disinfection byproducts were found at stream locations downstream from treated discharge from wastewater treatment plants that receive dairy waste and in the wastewaters directly from dairy facilities.

Date published: May 9, 2016
Status: Completed

Indication of Unconventional Oil and Gas Wastewaters Found in Local Surface Waters

Evidence indicating the presence of wastewaters from unconventional oil and gas (UOG) production was found in surface waters and surficial sediments near an UOG disposal facility in West Virginia.

Date published: April 25, 2016
Status: Completed

Importance of Lake Sediments in Removal of Cyanobacteria, Viruses, and Dissolved Organic Carbon

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists determined that the colmation layer (top 25 centimeters of lake sediments) was highly effective in removing cyanobacteria, viruses, and dissolved organic carbon during water passage through the lake bottom to aquifer sediments.

Contacts: Ronald W Harvey
Date published: March 31, 2016
Status: Completed

U.S. Geological Survey Identifies Crude-Oil Metabolites in Subsurface Plumes

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists studying two subsurface crude-oil spill sites in Minnesota measured concentrations of oil breakdown products (metabolites) at greater concentrations than parent compound concentrations.

Date published: March 3, 2016
Status: Completed

U.S. Geological Survey Develops Approach to Assess Baseline Chemical and Radiological Conditions Prior to Uranium Mining near Grand Canyon National Park

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists developed an approach and collected baseline data to quantitatively assess offsite migration of mine-related contaminants and to identify critical contaminant exposure pathways that could result from uranium mining activities in the Grand Canyon region.

Date published: February 17, 2016
Status: Completed

U.S. Geological Survey Scientists Complete First Systematic Regional Survey of Algal Toxins in Streams of the Southeastern United States

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists detected microcystin—an algal toxin—in 39 percent of 75 streams assessed in the southeastern United States. These results will inform and become part of a larger, systematic national survey of algal toxins in small streams of the United States.

Date published: January 13, 2016
Status: Completed

North American and European Atmospheric Mercury Declines Explained by Local and Regional Emission Reductions

Recent findings from a consortium of university, State, and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists indicate that declining atmospheric concentrations of mercury (Hg) can be explained by the phaseout of mercury in many commercial products and by reduced emissions from utilities over the past two decades.

Date published: December 21, 2015
Status: Completed

Remote Sensing Provides a National View of Cyanobacteria Blooms

Four Federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), are collaborating to transform satellite data into information managers can use to protect ecological and human health from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms.

Date published: December 15, 2015
Status: Completed

Ethanol-Containing Fuel Spills Enhanced Natural Trace Element Release from Sediments in an Experimental Setting

Experimental field research simulating hydrocarbon spills by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Virginia Tech, and the University of St. Thomas showed that mixed ethanol and petroleum-based fuels increased the rate by which arsenic and other natural trace elements are...

Date published: November 13, 2015
Status: Completed

Complex Mixtures, Complex Responses—Using Comprehensive Approaches to Assess Pharmaceutical Effects on Fish

The occurrence of complex mixtures of prescription pharmaceuticals in streams and rivers around the globe has raised concerns about potential unintended adverse effects on aquatic organisms. The deleterious effects (for example, alteration of fish behavior) observed in this study confirm that effluents containing pharmaceuticals can adversely affect fish in ways that are central to sustaining...

Contacts: Dana W Kolpin, Heiko L. Schoenfuss
Date published: November 13, 2015
Status: Completed

Landfill Leachate Released to Wastewater Treatment Plants and other Environmental Pathways Contains a Mixture of Contaminants including Pharmaceuticals

New scientific research from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) details how landfill leachate, disposed from landfills to environmental pathways, is host to numerous contaminants of emerging concern (CECs).

Date published: November 4, 2015
Status: Completed

Native Bees are Exposed to Neonicotinoids and Other Pesticides

A recent reconnaissance study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) demonstrates the first observed occurrence of pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides, in wild-caught native bees. The results indicate that native bees collected in an agricultural landscape are exposed to multiple pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. This reconnaissance study is the first...