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: February 17, 2017
Status: Completed

Assessing Contaminant Hazards Without a Critter—Advancements in Alternatives to Animal Toxicity Testing

During the past two decades, great strides have been made toward the development and use of ecotoxicity testing methods that reduce animal use or replace animals altogether with in vitro tests or in silico models.

Date published: February 15, 2017
Status: Completed

Fish Diets Switch From Aquatic to Terrestrial Insects in Streams Effected By Metal Contamination

A riparian zone rich in terrestrial insects can provide an alternate food source for fish in metal-impacted watersheds.

Date published: January 11, 2017
Status: Completed

Understanding Pathways of Unconventional Oil and Gas Produced Water Spills in the Environment

A new study measures the transport of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas (UOG) produced waters downstream from a pipeline leak in North Dakota. This work is part of a long-term study designed to understand chemical persistence in sediments and water and how those factors might be related to contaminant exposures and associated with adverse health effects, if any, on organisms...

Date published: January 4, 2017
Status: Completed

Is White Sucker Tumor Prevalence in some Wisconsin Rivers Related to Environmental Contaminant Exposures or Other Factors?

The incidence of particular skin and liver tumors on white suckers collected from some Wisconsin rivers corresponded to the degree of urban development within the watershed. Further research is needed to understand the relationship between exposure to urban-sourced contaminants and the initiation, promotion, and potential for population-level effects of these tumors.

Contacts: Vicki S Blazer
Date published: November 21, 2016
Status: Completed

Elevated Bladder Cancer in Northern New England—Drinking Water and Arsenic

Study finds bladder cancer risk was associated with water intake among participants with a history of private domestic well use. The trend was significant for participants who used shallow dug wells exclusively—a well type that typically has low arsenic concentrations but may have had higher concentrations historically.

Contacts: Joseph Ayotte
Date published: November 21, 2016
Status: Completed

New Study Measures Crop Bactericide, Nitrapyrin, in Iowa Streams

First-ever reconnaissance study documents the off-field transport of nitrapyrin — a nitrification inhibitor applied with fertilizers as a bactericide to kill natural soil bacteria for the purpose of increasing crop yields — to adjacent streams. This study is the first step in understanding the transport, occurrence, and potential effects of nitrapyrin or similar compounds on nitrogen...

Date published: November 1, 2016
Status: Completed

USGS Study Identifies Factors Related to Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists identified water-quality and environmental factors related to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms at beaches in Ohio. This information was collected as part of a long-term plan to develop site-specific predictive models for microcystin concentrations.

Contacts: Donna Francy
Date published: October 25, 2016
Status: Completed

Gestodene Affects Fish Reproductive Behavior in Laboratory Exposure Study

Short-term laboratory exposure of adult fathead minnows to the human contraceptive progestin, gestodene (GES), at environmentally relevant concentrations induced rapid and negative effects on reproductive health and suggests that wild fish may be similarly affected.

Date published: October 21, 2016
Status: Completed

Damage Assessment and Restoration Tracking System (DARTS)—A new tool to support the Department of Interior's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program

A new, web-based interactive tool has been developed to increase access to the Department of Interior (DOI) Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program information.

Contacts: Jo Ellen Hinck
Date published: October 20, 2016
Status: Completed

Organic Contaminant Levels and the Reproductive Success of Ospreys in Chesapeake Bay

Changes in the regulation and use of some organic chemicals have caused environmental concentrations to stabilize or decline during the past 35 years coincident with a rebound in the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) population of the Chesapeake Bay.

Date published: September 14, 2016
Status: Completed

Synthesis of Mercury Distribution and Bioaccumulation Across Western North America

The unique combination of natural processes and human activities present in western North America can strongly affect the exposure of fish and birds to methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury (Hg).

Date published: September 2, 2016
Status: Completed

Low Levels of Contaminants Found in Great Lakes Tree Swallow Eggs

Tree swallow eggs at most study sites in the Great Lakes basin were minimally exposed to legacy organic contaminants and brominated flame retardants.