Contaminant Biology Program

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Contaminant Biology Program scientists develop and apply advanced laboratory methods, field investigations, and modeling capabilities to understand toxicity and effects of environmental contaminant exposure. They work jointly with Toxic Substances Hydrology Program Scientists who determine sources, movement, and exposure pathways of contaminants in the environment.

News

Date published: March 20, 2019

What's New with Our Budget in Fiscal Year 2020

Information on funding for Environmental Health Mission Area programs for fiscal year 2020.

Date published: February 22, 2019

Fiscal Year 2018 USGS Environmental Health Mission Area Accomplishments

In Fiscal Year 2018 our two integrated programs – Contaminant Biology and Toxic Substances Hydrology Programs – provided essential information to understand the risks of environmental contaminants and pathogens.

"Everything we do is designed to safeguard the Nation's health, economy, and resources."

Date published: February 15, 2019

Environmental Health Mission Area Science Priorities for Fiscal Year 2019

The USGS Environmental Health Mission Area (EHMA)—through its integrated programs, the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) and the Contaminant Biology Program (CBP) — will continue its non-regulatory, non-advocacy science throughout 2019.

USGS Environmental Health Science, led by the Contaminant Biology and theToxic Substances Hydrology Programs, supports specialized teams of scientists who develop and apply advanced laboratory methods and field investigations to understand how contaminants and pathogens enter and move through the environment and affect the health of insects, fish, wildlife, and domestic animals.

Filter Total Items: 79
Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Active

Hazard, Risk and Physiologically-based Pharmacokinetic Model for Anticoagulant Rodenticides in Kestrels and Owls

Rodents can consume and spoil crops, serve as disease vectors, and can devastate remote island ecosystems when introduced by anthropogenic activities.  Starting in to 20th century, rodenticides were developed and introduced for the control of these commensal species.  Regrettably, some rodenticides pose a significant hazard to target wildlife.

Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Completed

Uranium in Springs Sampled Near the Grand Canyon Likely from Natural Sources

Scientists measured nine naturally occurring elements including uranium at 37 spring sites in the Grand Canyon area to establish baseline conditions and to understand the sources of uranium to local springs. Scientists found relatively greater concentrations of uranium at 6 of the 37 springs. A comprehensive geochemical analysis coupled with an understanding of the flow patterns in the area...

Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Completed

Roadmap to Understanding Factors Influencing Mercury Exposure and Adverse Health Effects

In a comprehensive overview, scientists explain that human and wildlife exposure and toxicological responses to mercury are dependent on factors that operate across global, individual, and molecular scales. They provide a roadmap for unified research to facilitate a better understanding of human and wildlife health risks from mercury exposure.

Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Completed

Pilot Study Provides Information on Contaminant Exposure from Tap Water at Residential and Workplace Sites in the United States

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with National Institutes of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and academia, completed a pilot study to provide information on contaminant exposure from tap water at 26 locations including public and private supplies. Public-supply tap water generally met enforceable standards for those compounds with standards. Samples consisted...

Date published: February 22, 2019
Status: Active

Point and Non-Point Sources of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and the Potential Effects on Fish and Frogs in the New Jersey Pinelands

Point and Non-Point Sources of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and the Potential Effects on Fish and Frogs in the New Jersey Pinelands

Contacts: Vicki Blazer
Date published: February 20, 2019
Status: Active

Contaminant-related Activities in Support of Client Agencies in the Department of the Interior

We undertake many research activities in support of the mission of the Department of the Interior.  One such activity is to evaluate the potential hazard and risk of environmental contaminants to natural resources.

Date published: February 18, 2019
Status: Completed

Contaminant Exposure, Food Web Transfer and Potential Health Effects on Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay Waterbirds

Chesapeake and Delaware Bays are the largest estuaries on the east coast of the United States.  They support extensive fisheries and provide critical habitat for many species of wildlife.  These Bays are surrounded by vast agricultural andindustrialized regions, with urbanized areas, all of which are a source of pollution that can affect natural resources.  We have long monitored contaminants...

Contacts: Barnett Rattner, Ph.D., Natalie Karouna-Renier, Ph.D., Rebecca Lazarus, Ph.D.
Date published: February 8, 2019
Status: Completed

Variability in Composition of an Oil Spill after more than 30 Years of Natural Attenuation

More than thirty years after an oil spill, hydrocarbons measured in groundwater near Bemidji, Minnesota, have been depleted between 25 and 85 percent. However, some components have remained for many decades and some are expected to remain longer indicating that natural attenuation is an effective but slow process. Compounds that are sufficiently soluble and resistant to biodegradation provide...

Contacts: Barbara Bekins
Date published: February 5, 2019
Status: Active

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) detected in Source Waters and Treated Public Water Supplies

This study, which measured 17 per- and polyfuoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in source and treated public water supplies from 25 drinking water facilities as part of a broader study of contaminants in drinking water across the United States, reports that PFASs were detected in all source water and public water supply samples collected. One sample exceeded the current U.S. Environmental...

Contacts: Edward Furlong, Dana W Kolpin, Susan T. Glassmeyer
Date published: February 5, 2019
Status: Active

Novel Approach Improves Understanding of Virus Occurrence in Drinking Water

Waterborne viruses, one of the leading causes of gastrointestinal illnesses, were measured in United States drinking water sources and finished water. Scientists used a combination of measurement and statistical techniques to overcome limitations to quantifying these viruses, thus offering an enhanced method for virus monitoring.

Contacts: Edward Furlong, Dana W Kolpin, Susan T. Glassmeyer
Date published: December 18, 2018
Status: Completed

Long-term Studies Examine Contaminant Exposure and Reproduction of Ospreys Nesting in Two Large United States Estuaries

In a series of studies from 2010 to 2018, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists detected low levels of legacy contaminants and pharmaceuticals in osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and their food chain within the Chesapeake and Delaware River estuaries. Osprey reproductive success increased during the same period and was determined to be adequate to sustain a stable population in both...

Date published: November 29, 2018
Status: Active

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Prevalence of Intersex in Fish Populations in New Jersey

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Prevalence of Intersex in Fish Populations in New Jersey

Filter Total Items: 310
Year Published: 2019

Toxicokinetics of imidacloprid-coated wheat seeds in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) and an evaluation of hazard

Birds are potentially exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides by ingestion of coated seeds during crop planting. Adult male Japanese quail were orally dosed with wheat seeds coated with an imidacloprid (IMI) formulation at either 0.9 mg/kg body weight (BW) or 2.7 mg/kg BW (~3 and 9% of IMI LD50 for Japanese quail, respectively) for 1 or 10 days....

Bean, Thomas G.; Gross, Michael S.; Karouna-Renier, Natalie K.; Henry, Paula F. P.; Schultz, Sandra L.; Hladik, Michelle; Kuivila, Kathryn; Rattner, Barnett A.

Year Published: 2019

Use of blood clotting assays to assess potential anticoagulant rodenticide exposure and effects in free-ranging birds of prey

Non-target wildlife, particularly birds of prey, are widely exposed to and acutely poisoned by anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs). An unresolved issue surrounding such exposure, however, is the potential for sublethal effects. In particular, the consequences of AR exposure and resulting coagulopathy on health and survival of...

Hindmarch, Sofi; Rattner, Barnett A.; Elliott, John E.

Year Published: 2018

Information to prevent human exposure to disease agents associated with wildlife—U.S. Geological Survey circulars on zoonotic disease

The U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others have published reports with information about geographic distribution, specific pathogens, disease ecology, and strategies to avoid exposure and infection for a selection of zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be passed from...

Meteyer, Carol U.; Moede Rogall, Gail
Meteyer, C.U., and Rogall, G.M., 2018, Information to prevent human exposure to disease agents associated with wildlife—U.S. Geological Survey circulars on zoonotic disease: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3077, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173077.

Year Published: 2017

Efficacy and residual toxicity of a sodium hydroxide based ballast water treatment system for freshwater bulk freighters

The efficacy and residual toxicity of a sodium hydroxide (NaOH) based ballast water treatment system (BWTS) were tested aboard the Great Lakes carrier M/V American Spiritin 1000 L mesocosms containing water from the ship's ballast tanks. NaOH was added to elevate the pH to 11.5 or 11.7 for 48 h, after which pH...

Elskus, Adria; Mitchelmore, Carys L.; Wright, David; Henquinet, Jeffrey W.; Welschmeyer, Nicholas; Flynn, Colin; Watten, Barnaby J.
IN PRESS

Year Published: 2017

Selenium: Mercury molar ratios in freshwater fish in the Columbia River Basin: Potential applications for specific fish consumption advisories

Fish provide a valuable source of beneficial nutrients and are an excellent source of low fat protein. However, fish are also the primary source of methylmercury exposure in humans. Selenium often co-occurs with mercury and there is some evidence that selenium can protect against mercury toxicity yet States issue fish consumption advisories based...

Cusack, Leanne K.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Harding, Anna K.; Kile, Molly; Stone, Dave

Year Published: 2017

Importance of the 2014 Colorado River Delta pulse flow for migratory songbirds: Insights from foraging behavior

The Lower Colorado River provides critical riparian areas in an otherwise arid region and is an important stopover site for migrating landbirds. In order to reverse ongoing habitat degradation due to drought and human-altered hydrology, a pulse flow was released from Morelos Dam in spring of 2014, which brought surface flow to dry stretches of the...

Darrah, Abigail J.; Greeney, Harold F.; van Riper, Charles
Darrah, Abigail .J., Harold F. Greeney and Charles van Riper III. 2016. Importance of the 2014 Colorado River Delta pulse flow for migratory songbirds: Insights from foraging behavior. Ecological Engineering. early online. Full cite to follow.

Year Published: 2017

An evaluation of inorganic toxicity reference values for use in assessing hazards to American robins (Turdus migratorius)

When performing screening-level and baseline risk assessments, assessors usually compare estimated exposures of wildlife receptor species with toxicity reference values (TRVs). We modeled the exposure of American robins (Turdus migratorius) to 10 elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Pb, Se, Zn, and V) in spring and early summer, a time when...

Beyer, W. Nelson; Sample, Bradley E.
Beyer, W. N. and Sample, B. E., 2016, An evaluation of inorganic toxicity reference values for use in assessing hazards to American robins (Turdus migratorius): Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management , v. 13, no. 2, p. 352-359.

Year Published: 2017

A modeling approach to compare ΣPCB concentrations between congener-specific analyses

Changes in analytical methods over time pose problems for assessing long-term trends in environmental contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Congener-specific analyses vary widely in the number and identity of the 209 distinct PCB chemical configurations (congeners) that are quantified, leading to inconsistencies among summed PCB...

Gibson, Polly P.; Mills, Marc A.; Kraus, Johanna M.; Walters, David M.

Year Published: 2016

Bald Eagle nestling mortality associated with Argas radiatus and Argas ricei tick infestation and successful management with nest removal in Arizona, USA

Eight Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nestlings heavily infested with larval ticks were found in or under a nest near the confluence of the Verde and Salt rivers in Arizona in 2009-11. The 8-12-wk-old nestlings were slow to respond to stimuli and exhibited generalized muscle weakness or paresis of the pelvic limbs. Numerous cutaneous and...

Justice-Allen, Anne; Orr, Kathy; Schuler, Krysten L.; McCarty, Kyle; Jacobson, Kenneth; Meteyer, Carol U.
Anne Justice-Allen, Kathy Orr, Krysten Schuler, Kyle McCarty, Kenneth Jacobson, and Carol Meteyer (2016) Bald Eagle Nestling Mortality Associated with Argas radiatus and Argas ricei Tick Infestation and Successful Management with Nest Removal in Arizona, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases: October 2016, Vol. 52, No. 4, pp. 940-944.

Year Published: 2016

Changing agricultural practices: Potential consequences to aquatic organisms

Agricultural practices pose threats to biotic diversity in freshwater systems with increasing use of glyphosate-based herbicides for weed control and animal waste for soil amendment becoming common in many regions. Over the past two decades, these particular agricultural trends have corresponded with marked declines in populations of fish and...

Lasier, Peter J.; Urich, Matthew L.; Hassan, Sayed M.; Jacobs, Whitney N.; Bringolf, Robert B.; Owens, Kathleen M.
Lasier, P. J., Urich, M. L., Hassan, S. M., Jacobs, W. N., Bringolf, R. B., and Owens, K. M., 2016, Changing agricultural practices: potential consequences to aquatic organisms: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 188, no. 672, p. 1-17.

Year Published: 2016

Ground squirrel shooting and potential lead exposure in breeding avian scavengers

Recreational ground squirrel shooting is a popular activity throughout the western United States and serves as a tool for managing ground squirrel populations in agricultural regions. Belding’s ground squirrels (Spermophilus beldingi) are routinely shot in California, Nevada, and Oregon across habitats that overlap with breeding avian scavengers....

Herring, Garth; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Wagner, Mason T.
Herring, G., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Wagner, M.T., 2016, Ground squirrel shooting and potential lead exposure in breeding avian scavengers: PLOS ONE, v. 11, no. 12, p. e0167926, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167926 pone.0167926.

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Molecular Devices ImageXpress† High-Content Imaging System
September 24, 2018

Molecular Devices ImageXpress† High-Content Imaging System

Molecular Devices ImageXpress High-Content Imaging System

Molecular Devices ImageXpress† High-Content Imaging System
September 24, 2018

Molecular Devices ImageXpress† High-Content Imaging System

Molecular Devices ImageXpress High-Content Imaging System that can generate more than 25,000 images in less than 5 hours of automated image acquisition.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist working on data analysis of cyanotoxins in water samples
September 24, 2018

(USGS scientist working on data analysis of cyanotoxins in water

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist working on data analysis of cyanotoxins in water samples

Keith A. Loftin, USGS, is the lead scientist for algal and cyanobacterial toxins
September 24, 2018

Keith A. Loftin is the lead scientist for algal and cyanobacteria

Keith A. Loftin, USGS, is the lead scientist for algal and cyanobacterial toxins

USGS scientists evaluating the nebulizer assembly in a mixed mode ionization source of a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer
September 24, 2018

USGS scientists evaluating the nebulizer assembly

USGS scientists evaluating the nebulizer assembly in a mixed mode ionization source of a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer used to measure individual cyanotoxins

Eosin-nigrosin staining of spermatozoa from common carp  testes collected from the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
September 24, 2018

Eosin-nigrosin staining of spermatozoa from common carp

Eosin-nigrosin staining of spermatozoa from common carp (Cyprinus carpio) testes collected from the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Microscopic video imaging for computerized analysis of sperm motility
September 24, 2018

Microscopic video imaging for computerized analysis of sperm motility

Microscopic video imaging is used for computerized analysis of sperm motility parameters

Tablet-enabled field forms have been developed to help coordinate field effortsand collect site information
September 24, 2018

Tablet-enabled field forms have been developed to help field efforts

Tablet-enabled field forms have been developed to help coordinate field efforts, collect site information, GPS coordinates, photos, and control data collection.

A USGS scientist prepares a sample to test the effect of antibiotics on denitrifying bacteria within a glove box
September 24, 2018

A USGS scientist prepares a sample to test the effect of antibiotics

A USGS scientist prepares a sample to test the effect of antibiotics on denitrifying bacteria within a glove box. A glove box allows scientists to work with samples in an anaerobic (no oxygen) atmosphere, the conditions under which denitrification occurs.

Using the 384-well plate format, a single zebrafish embryo is tested in each well
September 24, 2018

Using the 384-well plate format, a single zebrafish embryo is tested

Using the 384-well plate format, a single zebrafish embryo is tested in each well. This is an example of a 72 hour post fertilization fli1:egfp zebrafish (3 millimeters long) imaged under a fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) filter.

Scientist sitting next to a biological safety cabinet in a laboratory
May 14, 2018

Scientist Sitting Next to a Biological Safety Cabinet in a Laboratory

A U.S. Geological Survey scientist sits next to a biological safety cabinet in the cell bioassay laboratory at Columbia Environmental Research Center. Scientists optimized existing endocrine active chemical screening tests to improve their precision, accuracy, and

...

In addition to news release about our latest papers we also provide Environmental Health Featured Science Activities that highlight the results of our investigations.

See Our Featured Science Activities
Filter Total Items: 16
Date published: March 20, 2019

What's New with Our Budget in Fiscal Year 2020

Information on funding for Environmental Health Mission Area programs for fiscal year 2020.

Date published: February 22, 2019

Fiscal Year 2018 USGS Environmental Health Mission Area Accomplishments

In Fiscal Year 2018 our two integrated programs – Contaminant Biology and Toxic Substances Hydrology Programs – provided essential information to understand the risks of environmental contaminants and pathogens.

"Everything we do is designed to safeguard the Nation's health, economy, and resources."

Date published: February 15, 2019

Environmental Health Mission Area Science Priorities for Fiscal Year 2019

The USGS Environmental Health Mission Area (EHMA)—through its integrated programs, the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) and the Contaminant Biology Program (CBP) — will continue its non-regulatory, non-advocacy science throughout 2019.

Date published: September 14, 2018

Identifying Potential Contaminant Exposure to California Condors in the Pacific Northwest

Potential reintroduction of the endangered California Condor to parts of its historic range in the Pacific Northwest would benefit from information on possible threats that could challenge recovery efforts. Exposure to environmental contaminants is a key limiting factor for condor recovery in its southern range.

Date published: June 28, 2018

What’s New in Fiscal Year 2019

Information on funding for Environmental Health Mission Area programs for fiscal year 2019.

Date published: March 23, 2018

Highlights of Fiscal Year 2017 Accomplishments

"Everything we do is designed to safeguard the Nation's health, economy, and resources." 

A summary of accomplishments for fiscal year 2017 for the Environmental Health Mission Area.

Date published: July 11, 2016

EarthWord–Morbidity

When you’re not dead yet, but aren’t feeling well either, there’s an EarthWord for that...

Date published: May 9, 2016

Evidence of Unconventional Oil and Gas Wastewater Found in Surface Waters near Underground Injection Site

These are the first published studies to demonstrate water-quality impacts to a surface stream due to activities at an unconventional oil and gas wastewater deep well injection disposal site.

Date published: April 4, 2016

Despite Long-Lasting Pollutants, Ospreys Thrive in US’ Largest Estuary

The world's largest breeding population of ospreys is coping well with the long-lasting residues of toxic chemicals that were banned decades ago but remain in the Chesapeake Bay food chain at varying levels, such as the pesticide DDT and insulating chemicals known as PCBs.

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