Environmental Health

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: 145
Date published: January 27, 2015
Status: Completed

Public-Supply Well Pumping Regimes Influence Quality of Water Produced

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists studying the vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination have identified ways in which the seasonal operation of public-supply wells can affect the quality of water that they produce. By incorporating historical water-quality data into models of fluid flow, USGS scientists were able to estimate the amount of contaminated groundwater reaching a...

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 16, 2015
Status: Completed

Densovirus Calculated as Culprit Killing Sea Stars

A prime suspect has been identified as a probable cause of the "Sea Star Wasting Disease," a mysterious epidemic that has been killing these animals in droves along the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coast. Researchers from Cornell University, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other institutions published their findings on this "sea star associated densovirus (SSaDV)" ...

Contacts: Kevin Lafferty
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: November 14, 2014
Status: Completed

Commonly Used Chemicals Measured in Minnesota Groundwater

A team of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MCPA) scientists measured 127 organic chemicals in groundwater underlying urbanized areas in Minnesota. These chemicals include ones commonly used and consumed in our daily lives, in products such as human–use and veterinary pharmaceuticals, fragrances,...

Date published: October 3, 2014
Status: Completed

Arsenic in Minnesota Groundwater

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) scientists are assessing the distribution of arsenic in groundwater in Minnesota. Naturally occurring arsenic is common in groundwater in Minnesota. About 15 percent of drinking water wells statewide have arsenic concentrations that exceed the ...

Date published: October 1, 2014
Status: Completed

Small Decadal–Scale Changes in Pesticides in Groundwater

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have completed the most comprehensive evaluation to date (2014) of decadal–scale changes in pesticide concentrations in groundwater of the United States. Such assessments are essential for tracking long–term responses to changes in pesticide use and land–management practices.

Date published: September 26, 2014
Status: Completed

USGS Health-Based Screening Levels Available Online

A U.S. Geological Survey USGS Health-Based Screening Level (HBSL) Web site includes human-health benchmarks for 351 contaminants (79 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), 117 EPA Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides (...

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: September 15, 2014
Status: Completed

Nutrient Inputs to the Nation's Estuaries and Great Lakes

Maps and data tables that describe nutrient loading to major estuaries throughout the conterminous United States are now available online. These maps show the major sources of nutrients and their contributing areas for 115 estuaries along the Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Northwest coast and from 160 watersheds draining into the Great Lakes. Information on the sources and areas...