Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Featured Science Activities

Our science is 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.
 

Filter Total Items: 100
Date published: August 26, 2015
Status: Completed

Potential Exposure to Bacteria and Viruses Weeks after Swine Manure Spill

Manure spills may be an underappreciated pathway for livestock-derived contaminants to enter streams. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied an Iowa stream after the release of a large volume of swine manure (a manure spill). The scientists observed an increase in viruses...

Date published: August 18, 2015
Status: Completed

First National-Scale Reconnaissance of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in United States Streams

Neonicotinoid insecticides (neonicotinoids) were present in a little more than half of the streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. This is the first national-scale study of the presence of neonicotinoids in urban and agricultural land use settings across the Nation and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations...

Date published: July 6, 2015
Status: Completed

Long-Term Study Finds Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Urban Waterways

U.S. Geological Survey (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 (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio) during 1999 through 2009.

Date published: June 30, 2015
Status: Completed

Assessing Environmental Chemical Mixtures in United States Streams

The U.S. Geological Survey (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.

Contacts: Paul M Bradley
Date published: June 17, 2015
Status: Completed

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

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

Date published: June 2, 2015
Status: Completed

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). Factors influencing movement to shallow groundwater and the types of chemicals found include population served by a septic system, site conditions such...

Date published: January 28, 2015
Status: Completed

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. ...

Contacts: Mark E Brigham
Date published: January 26, 2015
Status: Completed

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

U.S. Geological Survey (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 CEconcentrations were affected by dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) volume, composition, and by the bioavailability of organic carbon that drives...

Date published: January 26, 2015
Status: Completed

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 a toxin and carcinogen linked to numerous forms of skin, bladder, and lung cancer. Of...

Date published: January 5, 2015
Status: Completed

Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory Scored High on Proficiency Testing for Glyphosate

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

Date published: January 1, 2015
Status: Completed

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.

Contacts: Paul M Bradley
Date published: September 16, 2014
Status: Completed

Disasters and Environmental Health

U.S. Geological Survey (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 volcanic ash, building collapse dusts and debris, flood sediments, flood waters, wildfire ash and debris...