Land Stewardship Science Team

Science Center Objects

Managers of federal lands (national parks and monuments, refuges, wildlands, etc.) need to use chemicals to deal with difficult issues such as stopping wildfires, controlling wildlife disease, and removing non-native plants and animals. Sometimes, using chemicals to deal with these issues has the potential to cause unintended consequences and unforeseen health impacts to both humans and other organisms. Scientists in the Land Stewardship Team of the U.S. Geological Survey's Environmental Health Mission Area work with land managers to design and conduct studies that can help them use the chemicals while reducing or eliminating undesirable effects.

 Dusty road conditions at Squaw Creek

Dusty conditions prior to road treatment on the auto tour loop at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Squaw Creek NWR) in July of 2014. Loess Bluffs was the site of a large-scale field test of two dust suppressant products, with monitoring of product performance and environmental safety. 

(Credit: Bethany Williams Kunz, US Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Current Science Questions and Activities

  • Do adult mosquito control pesticides pose a health risk for nontarget terrestrial invertebrates while effectively controlling mosquitoes?
  • What are the health risks to humans and wildlife, if any, due to chemical treatments on unpaved roads?
  • What is the risk of exposure and adverse health effects, if any, to non-target organisms associated with use of anticoagulant rodenticides?
  • Characterize the acute toxicity of candidate fire control chemicals being considered for the U.S. Forest Service Qualified Products List to early life stages of rainbow trout, a useful surrogate for protection of native species.
  • What is the health risk to biota due to the range of continuous, episodic, and short-lived exposures from spills of fire-fighting chemicals?
  • What is the non-target health risk to other aquatic biota when antimycin-laden microparticle formulations are used to control Asian Carp in the Great Lakes region?
  • Do chemicals used to control invasive crayfish in tanks on fish hatchery trucks pose a health risk to non-target organisms?
  • What are the risks, if any, of a pesticide used to benefit wildlife to non-target species? What do wildlife incident data reveal about which pesticides are or are not responsible for adverse effects?