Mission Areas

Environmental Health

The Toxic Substances Hydrology and Contaminant Biology Programs work collaboratively to assess and differentiate the environmental contaminant and pathogen exposures that cause actual health risks versus those that are only perceived. Specialized teams of hydrologists, geologists, chemists, biologists, and geographers work together in the field and laboratories across the United States.

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Featured Science Activities

Featured Science Activities

Our Science Feature Articles highlight recent USGS environmental health science activities.

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GeoHEALTH-USGS Newsletter

GeoHEALTH-USGS Newsletter

The GeoHEALTH-USGS Newsletter provides information on new USGS science activities related to safeguarding the health of fish, wildlife, domesticated animals, livestock, and people from environmental exposures to contaminants and pathogens.

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Date published: May 15, 2019

USGS Kicks Off Innovative Project to Study Harmful Algal Blooms in New York

Monitoring Effort Supports State’s Initiative to Combat Potentially Toxic Blooms

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: March 13, 2019

Significant Milestone in Whooping Crane Recovery

This week marks a significant milestone in the conservation and recovery of the endangered whooping crane. On March 11 and 13, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center transferred its last two cranes of the approximately 75 that were in its flock to other institutions, closing out more than 50 years of the center’s whooping crane research and captive breeding success.


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Year Published: 2019

Current state of knowledge on biological effects from contaminants on arctic wildlife and fish

Since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to organohalogen compounds (OHCs) in Arctic biota, there has been a considerable number of new Arctic effect studies. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of OHC, and also include mercury, exposure and/or...

Dietz, Rune; Letcher, Robert J.; Desforges, Jean-Pierre; Eulaers, Igor; Sonne, Christian; Wilson, Simon; Andersen-Ranberg, Emilie; Basu, Niladri; Barst, Benjamin D.; Bustnes, Jan Ove; Bytingsvik, Jenny; Ciesielski, Tomasz M.; Drevnick, Paul E.; Gabrielsen, Geir W.; Haarr, Ane; Hylland, Ketil; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Levin, Milton; McKinney, Melissa A.; Nørregaard, Rasmus Dyrmose; Pedersen, Kathrine E.; Provencher, Jennifer; Styrishave, Bjarne; Tartu, Sabrina; Aars, Jon; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Rosing-Asvid, Aqqalu; Barrett, Rob; Bignert, Anders; Born, Erik W.; Branigan, Marsha; Braune, Birgit; Bryan, Colleen E.; Dam, Maria; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Evans, Marlene S.; Evans, Thomas J.; Fisk, Aaron T.; Gamberg, Mary; Gustavson, Kim; Hartman, C. Alex; Helander, Björn; Herzog, Mark P.; Hoekstra, Paul F.; Houde, Magali; Hoydal, Katrin; Jackson, Allyson K.; Kucklick, John; Lie, Elisabeth; Loseto, Lisa; Mallory, Mark L.; Miljeteig, Cecilie; Mosbech, Anders; Muir, Derek C.G.; Nielsen, Sanna Túni; Peacock, Elizabeth; Pedro, Sara; Peterson, Sarah H.; Polder, Anuschka; Rigét, Frank F.; Roach, Pat; Saunes, Halvor; Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S.; Skaare, Janneche U.; Søndergaard, Jens; Stenson, Garry; Stern, Gary; Treu, Gabriele; Schuur, Stacy S.; Víkingsson, Gísli
Dietz, R., Letcher, R. J., Desforges, J. P., Eulaers, I., Sonne, C., Wilson, S., ... & Bytingsvik, J. (2019). Current state of knowledge on biological effects from contaminants on arctic wildlife and fish. Science of The Total Environment, 133792.

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Year Published: 2019

Chemical and physical controls on mercury source signatures in stream fish from the northeastern United States

Streams in the northeastern U.S. receive mercury (Hg) in varying proportions from atmospheric deposition and legacy point sources, making it difficult to attribute shifts in fish concentrations directly back to changes in Hg source management. Mercury stable isotope tracers were utilized to relate sources of Hg to co-located fish and bed sediments...

Janssen, Sarah E.; Riva-Murray, Karen; DeWild, John F.; Ogorek, Jacob M.; Tate, Michael T.; Van Metre, Peter C.; Krabbenhoft, David P.; Coles, James F.
Janssen SE, Riva-Murray K, DeWild JF, Ogorek JM, Tate MT, Van Metre PC, et al. Chemical and Physical Controls on Mercury Source Signatures in Stream Fish from the Northeastern United States. Environmental Science & Technology 2019.

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Year Published: 2019

De facto reuse and disinfection by-products in drinking water systems in the Shenandoah River watershed

De facto reuse is increasingly being studied among the variety of stressors that are relevant to drinking water systems that obtain their source water from surface waters. De facto reuse may influence the levels and types of precursors relevant to formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in surface water systems. DBPs such as...

Weisman, Richard J; Barber, Larry; Rapp, Jennifer; Ferreira, Celso M