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: 93
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...

Date published: August 14, 2012
Status: Completed

Improvements in Wastewater Treatment Reduces Endocrine Disruption in Fish

A team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Colorado, and the City of Boulder, Colorado, demonstrated that improvements to the treatment process at a wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) reduced the level of ...

Contacts: Mike Focazio
Date published: December 22, 2011
Status: Completed

Evidence of Endocrine Disruption Unexpectedly Found in Minnesota Lakes

Endocrine disrupting chemicals and indicators of endocrine disruption were found in several Minnesota lakes with surrounding urban, residential, agricultural, and forested land uses. The lakes do not directly receive discharges from industries or wastewater-treatment plants; however, they are used for recreation, and they receive water from widely scattered sources. ...

Contacts: Mike Focazio