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: 155
Date published: May 18, 2018
Status: Completed

New Method Can Measure Naturally Occurring Element Exposure in Hummingbirds Without Harm

Seventeen naturally occurring trace elements, including those associated with adverse health impacts when birds are exposed to toxic levels (iron, lead, mercury, selenium, zinc, cadmium, and arsenic) were measured in small birds without harm. The nonlethal method was developed for hummingbirds, with Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna) as a test species and can be more broadly applied...

Contacts: Josh T Ackerman, Lisa Tell, Robert Poppenga- DVM, PhD, DABVT
Date published: January 2, 2018
Status: Completed

Estimated Toxicity to Aquatic Organisms in Midwestern Streams Driven by Relatively Few of the 227 Pesticides Analyzed

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists measured and estimated potential acute and chronic toxicity for 227 pesticides in agricultural and urban streams in Midwestern United States. Numerous pesticides were detected at low levels. Atrazine, acetochlor, metolachlor, imidacloprid, fipronil, selected organophosphate insecticides, and carbendazim were determined to be major contributors to...

Contacts: Lisa Nowell
Date published: December 19, 2017
Status: Completed

Understanding Associations between Mussel Productivity and Cyanotoxins in Lake Erie

Study findings indicate that cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins were not associated with mussel mortality at the concentrations present in Lake Erie during a recent study (2013-15), but mussel growth was lower at sites with greater microcystin concentrations.

Date published: December 8, 2017
Status: Completed

Cyclical Mobilization and Attenuation of Naturally Occurring Arsenic in an Underground Petroleum Plume

cientists found that naturally occurring arsenic in aquifer sediments was mobilized into groundwater and attenuated through reattachment to sediments within an underground petroleum plume. Understanding these patterns identifies anthropogenic factors that affect arsenic presence and magnitude in groundwater.

Date published: December 4, 2017
Status: Completed

Scientists Examined Native Pollinator Exposure Risk to Neonicotinoids in Native Prairie Strips

Neonicotinoids were not detected in native prairie plants placed next to agricultural fields several years after discontinuation of neonicotinoid seed treatment. In addition, neonicotinoid concentrations were lower or absent in soils and runoff at sites with the native prairie strips.

Date published: October 18, 2017
Status: Completed

Body Symmetry in Forster's Terns Related to Mercury Exposure

Body symmetry of Forster's terns (Sterna forsteri) in San Francisco Bay was related to blood and feather mercury concentrations. Body asymmetry can affect a bird's fitness by reducing flight efficiency, thus increasing energetic costs (especially during migration) and interrupting normal feeding and breeding behaviors.

Date published: October 18, 2017
Status: Completed

Optimized Approaches Coupled with Interactive Mapping Application Provide a Tool to Visualize the Occurrence of Soil Pathogens

Scientists optimized existing methods to collect and identify microorganisms including Bacillus anthracis, a pathogenic microorganism, in 4,800 soil samples across the United States, and developed a geographic information system (GIS)-based application to visualize microorganism occurrence throughout the United States.

Contacts: Dale Griffin
Date published: October 17, 2017
Status: Completed

Comparison of Predicted and Measured Pharmaceutical Concentrations in Rivers

New study evaluated if predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) of pharmaceuticals (based on pharmaceutical usage data, degree of metabolism in humans, removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and environmental dilution), reflect actual measured environmental concentrations (MECs) in two rivers of different sizes and demographics.

Contacts: Dana W Kolpin
Date published: October 13, 2017
Status: Active

Occurrence of Avian Influenza Virus in Groundwater—Study Provides Baseline Data and Informs Future Studies

This pilot study provided baseline data on avian influenza virus (AIV) occurrence in groundwater underlying poultry farms and documented the challenges for conducting a pathogen transport study during a disease outbreak.

 

Contacts: Laura E Hubbard, Dana W Kolpin, Mark A. Borchardt
Date published: October 12, 2017
Status: Completed

Sources of Contaminants to Congaree National Park—USGS and National Park Service Working Together

A National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study determined the concentrations, potential for degradation, and potential for aquatic and terrestrial animal exposure to organic contaminants in water and sediment within the flood-plain/aquatic environments of Congaree National Park which is located downstream from urban and...

Contacts: Paul M Bradley
Date published: October 12, 2017
Status: Completed

New Method Developed to Quantify Spatial Extent of Cyanobacterial Blooms

This study provides a method for quantifying changes in the spatial extent of cyanobacterial blooms at local and regional scales using remotely sensed data to determine if bloom occurrence and size are increasing or decreasing for inland water resources.

 

Contacts: Keith A Loftin, Ph.D., Blake Schaeffer
Date published: September 19, 2017
Status: Completed

USGS Scientists Receive Award for Pioneering Work on White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

Dr. Carol U. Meteyer and Dr. David S. Blehert received the Tom Thorne and Beth Williams Memorial Award from the Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians for their pioneering work on white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats.