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: August 18, 2015
Status: Completed

First National-Scale Reconnaissance of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in United States Streams

Neonicotinoid insecticides (neonicotinoids) were present in a little more than half of the streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. This is the first national-scale study of the presence of neonicotinoids in urban and agricultural land use settings across the Nation and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations...

Date published: August 11, 2015
Status: Completed

Public Perception Impedes Prevention of Arsenic Exposure

One of the biggest challenges in preventing arsenic exposure from drinking water may be public perception, according to a recent special section of Science of the Total Environment. In this special section of 13 papers report on new understanding of arsenic hydrogeochemistry, performance of household well water treatment systems, and testing and treatment behaviors of well users in several...

Contacts: Joseph Ayotte, Yan Zheng
Date published: August 7, 2015
Status: Completed

Pesticides, Flame Retardants, and Mercury in Tissues from Columbia Basin Pacific Lamprey

Pesticides, flame retardants, and mercury were present in Pacific lampreys (Entosphenus tridentatus) at levels that may be contributing to their overall decline in the Columbia River Basin.These findings are based on the largest available dataset of contaminants measured in lamprey tissues and lamprey habitats by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal...

Contacts: Elena Nilsen
Date published: July 6, 2015
Status: Completed

Long-Term Study Finds Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Urban Waterways

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists determined that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were present in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent, water, and fish tissue in urban waterways in the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi River Regions (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio) during 1999 through 2009.

Date published: July 1, 2015
Status: Completed

Federal and State Partnerships Advance Understanding of Contaminants in a Human-Health Context

Partnerships between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) enhance the State's ability to evaluate human-health risks from chemicals of concern (CECs).MDH considers CECs for toxicological review and development of drinking-water guidance. The human-health information generated by the MDH puts...

Contacts: Sarah M Elliott,  Helen Goeden, Christopher Greene
Date published: June 30, 2015
Status: Completed

Assessing Environmental Chemical Mixtures in United States Streams

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are collaborating on a field-based study of chemical mixture composition and environmental effects in stream waters affected by a wide range of human activities and contaminant sources.

Contacts: Paul M Bradley
Date published: June 17, 2015
Status: Completed

Microbiology and Chemistry of Waters Produced from Hydraulic Fracking—A Case Study

A new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study determined that the microbiology and organic chemistry of produced waters varied widely among hydraulically fractured shale gas wells in north-central Pennsylvania.

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: May 21, 2015
Status: Completed

Groundwater Quality in Principal Aquifers of the United States, 1991—2010

A new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report summarizes the major findings of national and regional assessments of groundwater quality in 40 Principal Aquifers in the United States. Knowledge of contaminant occurrence and the factors that control contaminant concentrations can ensure the availability and quality of this vital...

Date published: February 2, 2015
Status: Completed

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) White Blood Cells are Functionally Modulated by Estrogens

Estrogens are recognized as modulators of immune responses in mammals, but how these effects might occur in fish was not understood. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists published findings that fish white blood cells (leukocytes) have specific estrogen receptors (ERs)—a discovery that moves scientists one step closer to understanding the connection between exposure to estrogenic substances...

Date published: January 30, 2015
Status: Completed

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected for the First Time in Wild Birds in North America

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are helping to track the movement of three strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) in wild birds. HPAI viruses are a concern as they are very pathogenic to poultry and some species of wild birds such as raptors. Infection can result in significant mortality of poultry and impact international trade of poultry products. In...

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