Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions. Websites displaying real-time data, such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support. Additionally, USGS will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.  For more information, please see www.doi.gov/shutdown

Mission Areas

Environmental Health

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USGS specializes in science at the environment-health interface, by characterizing the processes that affect the interaction among the physical environment, the living environment, and people, and the resulting factors that affect ecological and human exposure to disease agents.

Our Science Strategy
Filter Total Items: 91
Date published: August 12, 2016

Potential Toxicity of Multiple Metals Associated with PGE Deposits

Water quality and aquatic life standards that are set by Federal and state regulatory agencies are used to evaluate the quality of our nation’s water and the health of aquatic ecosystems. These standards currently are based on hardness of the water and are determined for single metals, not for mixtures of metals that are typically found in natural systems. Metal mixtures can potentially be...

Date published: April 26, 2016
Status: Active

Monarch Butterfly Utilization of Milkweed Plants Grown in Close Proximity to Corn Treated by a Neonicotinoid Insecticide (Seed Treatment)

Monarch butterfly populations have declined sufficiently to result in noticeably fewer overwintering at sites in central Mexico as in California.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Watershed Contamination from Metal and Uranium Mining

The goal of this investigation is to provide improved information and tools to support decisions related to management, risk assessment, remediation planning, and mitigation of the effects of hard-rock metal mining and uranium mining on watersheds and ecosystems.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Fate and Effects of Wastes from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

This study is assessing the environmental health risks associated with wastes from unconventional oil and gas development by characterizing waste materials, identifying potential environmental pathways, and evaluating the potential effects on organisms from exposure to unintended waste releases.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Sewage-Contaminated Ground Water

The USGS is investigating a wastewater plume in a shallow aquifer near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to increase the understanding of the physical, chemical, and microbiological processes that affect the fate and transport of contaminants in groundwater.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Pesticide Contamination and Environmental Exposure

The USGS is developing methods to measure new pesticides and their byproducts in environmental media, conducting studies on the fate of these chemicals, and assessing exposure and potential effects on fish, wildlife, and human health.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Mercury in Aquatic Ecosystems

This investigation focuses on understanding mercury sources, pathways and key processes in the environment, with particular emphasis on mercury methylation and accumulation in aquatic ecosystems.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Low-Level Radioactive and Mixed- Hazardous Wastes

The objective of research at the Amargosa Desert Research Site, Nevada, is to improve understanding of processes controlling the migration and fate of contaminants in arid environments, and the environmental-health implications of disposed radioactive and industrial waste.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

The USGS is conducting source-to-receptor research on a broad range of chemical and microbial contaminants including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pathogens, antibiotic resistant genes, and natural toxins that are not commonly considered in environmental research but have the potential to impact environmental health.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Chemical Mixtures and Environmental Effects

The USGS is investigating the occurrence and environmental effects of complex mixtures of both natural and man-made chemicals in environmental waters.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Crude Oil Contamination in the Shallow Subsurface

This investigation focuses on the long-term persistence in soils and groundwater of petroleum hydrocarbon spills, including crude oil and refined petroleum fuels. The study site near Bemidji, MN, is a laboratory for developing site assessment tools and understanding chemical changes affecting human and environmental health that occur during natural attenuation of petroleum hydrocarbons.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Chlorinated Solvents in Fractured-Rock Aquifers

The USGS is investigating the hydrological, geochemical, and microbiological processes controlling contaminant fate in fractured-rock aquifers. Long-term field experiments are currently conducted at a former aircraft engine test facility in West Trenton, New Jersey, where high concentrations of trichloroethene persist in sedimentary rocks despite two decades of groundwater pumping and...

Filter Total Items: 2,467
Year Published: 2016

The reintroduction landscape: Finding success at the intersection of ecological, social, and institutional dimensions: Chapter 5

No abstract available. 

Jachowski, David S.; Millspaugh, Joshua J.; Angermeier, Paul L.; Slotow, Rob; Dunham, Jason B.; White, Rollie; Allen, Chris S; Marcot, Bruce G.; Shively, Dan

Year Published: 2016

Tumours in white suckers from Lake Michigan tributaries: Pathology and prevalence

The prevalence and histopathology of neoplastic lesions were assessed in white suckerCatostomus commersonii captured at two Lake Michigan Areas of Concern (AOCs), the Sheboygan River and Milwaukee Estuary. Findings were compared to those observed at two non-AOC sites, the Root and Kewaunee rivers. At each site, approximately 200 adult suckers were...

Blazer, Vicki S.; Walsh, H.L.; Braham, R.P.; Hahn, C. M.; Mazik, P.; McIntyre, P.B.

Year Published: 2016

Chesapeake Bay fish–osprey (Pandion haliaetus) food chain: Evaluation of contaminant exposure and genetic damage

From 2011 to 2013, a large-scale ecotoxicological study was conducted in several Chesapeake Bay (USA) tributaries (Susquehanna River and flats, the Back, Baltimore Harbor/Patapsco Rivers, Anacostia/ middle Potomac, Elizabeth and James Rivers) and Poplar Island as a mid-Bay reference site. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) diet and the transfer of...

Lazarus, Rebecca S.; Rattner, Barnett A.; McGowan, Peter C.; Hale, Robert C.; Karouna-Reiner, Natalie K.; Erickson, Richard A.; Ottinger, Mary Ann
Lazarus, R. S., Rattner, B. A., McGowan, P. C., Hale, R. C., Karouna-Renier, N. K., Erickson, R. A., and Ottinger, M. A., 2016, Chesapeake Bay fish-osprey (Pandion haliaetus) food chain: Evaluation of contaminant exposure and genetic damage: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 35, no. 6, p. 1560–1575.

Year Published: 2016

Reservoirs and water management influence fish mercury concentrations in the western United States and Canada

Anthropogenic manipulation of aquatic habitats can profoundly alter mercury (Hg) cycling and bioaccumulation. The impoundment of fluvial systems is among the most common habitat manipulations and is known to increase fish Hg concentrations immediately following impoundment. However, it is not well understood how Hg concentrations differ between...

Willacker, James J.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Lutz, Michelle A.; Tate, Michael T.; Lepak, Jesse M.; Ackerman, Joshua T.
Willacker Jr., J.J., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Lutz, M.A., Tate, M.T., Lepak, J.M., Ackerman, J.T., 2016, Reservoirs and water management influence fish mercury concentrations in the western United States and Canada: Science of the Total Environment, p. online.

Year Published: 2016

Retrospective: Adjusting contaminant concentrations in bird eggs to account for moisture and lipid Loss during their incubation

By the 1960s, research and monitoring efforts on chlorinated pesticide residues in tissues of wildlife were well underway in North America and Europe. Conservationists and natural resource managers were attempting to resolve whether pesticide exposure and accumulated residues were related to population declines in several species of predatory and...

Rattner, Barnett A.; Wiemeyer, Stanley N.; Blus, Lawrence J.
Rattner, B. A., Wiemeyer, S. N., and Blus, L. J., 2016, Retrospective: Adjusting contaminant concentrations in bird eggs to account for moisture and lipid Loss during their incubation: Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, v. 97, no. 1, p. 2-3.

Year Published: 2016

Microbial pathogens in source and treated waters from drinking water treatment plants in the United States and implications for human health

An occurrence survey was conducted on selected pathogens in source and treated drinking water collected from 25 drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs) in the United States. Water samples were analyzed for the protozoa Giardia and Cryptosporidium (EPA Method 1623); the fungi Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus terreus (...

King, Dawn N.; Donohue, Maura J.; Vesper, Stephen J.; Villegas, Eric N.; Ware, Michael W.; Vogel, Megan E.; Furlong, Edward; Kolpin, Dana W.; Glassmeyer, Susan T.; Pfaller, Stacy

Year Published: 2016

Novel cell-based assay for detection of thyroid receptor beta-interacting environmental contaminants

Even though the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) with thyroid hormone (TH)-like activities in the environment is a major health concern, the methods for their efficient detection and monitoring are still limited. Here we describe a novel cell assay, based on the translocation of a green fluorescent protein (GFP)—tagged chimeric...

Stavreva, Diana A.; Varticovski, Lyuba; Levkova, Ludmila; George, Anuja A.; Davis, Luke; Pegoraro, Gianluca; Blazer, Vicki S.; Iwanowicz, Luke R. ; Hager, Gordon L.
Stavreva DA, Varticovski L, Levkova L, George AA, Davis L, Pegoraro G, Blazer V, Iwanowicz L, Hager GL. 2016. Novel cell-based assay for detection of thyroid receptor beta-interacting environmental contaminants. Toxicology. 368-369: 69-79.

Year Published: 2016

Concentrations and spatial patterns of organic contaminants in tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) eggs at United States and binational Great Lakes Areas of Concern, 2010–2015

Tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, were sampled across the Great Lakes basin in 2010 through 2015 to provide a system-wide assessment of current exposure to organic contaminants. The results provide information identified as critical by regulators to assess the “bird or animal deformity or reproductive problems” beneficial use...

Custer, Christine M.; Custer, Thomas W.; Dummer, Paul; Goldberg, Diana R.; Franson, J. Christian

Year Published: 2016

Investigation of total and hexavalent chromium in filtered and unfiltered groundwater samples at the Tucson International Airport Superfund Site

Potential health effects from hexavalent chromium in groundwater have recently become a concern to regulators at the Tucson International Airport Area Superfund site. In 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey sampled 46 wells in the area to characterize the nature and extent of chromium in groundwater, to understand what proportion of total chromium is...

Tillman, Fred; McCleskey, R. Blaine; Hermosillo, Edyth

Year Published: 2016

Assessing potential health risks to fish and humans using mercury concentrations in inland fish from across western Canada and the United States

Fish represent high quality protein and nutrient sources, but Hg contamination is ubiquitous in aquatic ecosystems and can pose health risks to fish and their consumers. Potential health risks posed to fish and humans by Hg contamination in fish were assessed in western Canada and the United States. A large compilation of inland fish Hg...

Lepak, Jesse M.; Hooten, Mevin B.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Tate, Michael T.; Lutz, Michelle A.; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Willacker, James J.; Jackson, Allyson K.; Evers, David C.; Wiener, James G.; Pritz, Colleen Flanagan; Davis, Jay

Year Published: 2016

Biogeochemical controls of uranium bioavailability from the dissolved phase in natural freshwaters

To gain insights into the risks associated with uranium (U) mining and processing, we investigated the biogeochemical controls of U bioavailability in the model freshwater speciesLymnaea stagnalis (Gastropoda). Bioavailability of dissolved U(VI) was characterized in controlled laboratory experiments over a range of water hardness, pH, and in...

Croteau, Marie-Noele; Fuller, Christopher C.; Cain, Daniel J.; Campbell, Kate M.; Aiken, George R.
Croteau et al. Biogeochemical controls of uranium bioavailability from the dissolved phase. Environ. Sci. Technol.

Year Published: 2016

Adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes following prenatal exposure to a 2 hydraulic fracturing chemical mixture in female C57Bl/6 mice

Unconventional oil and gas operations using hydraulic fracturing can contaminate surface and groundwater with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. We have previously shown that 23 of 24 commonly used hydraulic fracturing chemicals can activate or inhibit the estrogen, androgen, glucocorticoid, progesterone, and/or thyroid receptors in a human...

Kassotis, Christopher D.; Bromfield, John J.; Klemp, Kara C.; Meng, Chun-Xia; Wolfe, Andrew R.; Zoeller, Thomas; Balise, Victoria D.; Isiguzo, Chiamaka J.; Tillitt, Donald E.; Nagel, Susan C.

Filter Total Items: 153
Cyanobacterial blooms in 2016 on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
July 9, 2016

Cyanobacterial blooms in 2016 on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Cyanobacterial blooms, such as the one shown that occurred in 2016 on Lake Okeechobee, Florida, can release toxins.

Gulls using beach at the mouth of Kenai River during the personal use dipnet fishery for sockeye salmon.
June 30, 2016

Kenai River during the personal use dipnet fishery for sockeye salmon.

Gulls using beach at the mouth of Kenai River during the personal use dipnet fishery for sockeye salmon; photo taken during sampling trip in July 2016.

John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016
June 30, 2016

A gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill

John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016.

June 15, 2016

Running Rivers

What inspired a USGS geologist to study how dam removal changes rivers. Profile of Amy East.

Scientists setting a trap for gulls at the landfill
June 9, 2016

Setting a trap for gulls at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016

Scientists Andrew Ramey, Bjorn Olsen, and Jonas Bonnedahl (L to R) setting a trap for gulls at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016.

Tanker truck sits in from of several large tanks holding wastewater.
May 6, 2016

Class II injection well wastewater disposal facility with storage tank

This West Virginia disposal facility disposes of wastewaters from unconventional oil and gas production in Class II underground injection control wells

View of Old Mans Creek near Iowa City, Iowa
April 30, 2016

View of Old Mans Creek near Iowa City, Iowa

View of Old Mans Creek near Iowa City, Iowa upstream from a bridge used for collecting water-quality samples (USGS Site ID: 05455100). This site was part of the sampling network for the first reconnaissance study to assess

...
USGS Laboratory for Infectious Disease and the Environment
February 9, 2016

USGS Laboratory for Infectious Disease and the Environment

U.S. Geological Survey scientists analyzing samples for viral pathogens at the Laboratory for Infectious Disease and the Environment. A pilot study provided baseline data on avian influenza virus (AIV) occurrence in groundwater underlying poultry farms and

...
A scientist working in a laboratory
December 31, 2015

A Scientist Working in a Laboratory Measuring Pharmaceuticals in Water

A PhD fellow from the University of York measuring pharmaceutical concentrations in samples collected from the Rivers Foss and Ouse, United Kingdom, during her work at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Laboratory. A new study evaluated

...
New Croton Dam is part of New York City's water supply system
December 31, 2015

New Croton Dam is part of New York City's water supply system

The New Croton Dam is part of New York City's water supply system, Croton-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York.

Idealized diagram of a public water supply's water distribution system
December 31, 2015

Idealized diagram of a public water supply's water distribution system

Idealized diagram of a public water supply's water distribution system.

Vial containing an egg sample that will undergo chemical extraction
October 28, 2015

Vial containing an egg sample that will undergo chemical extraction

Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory — Sacramento, California. Vial containing an egg sample

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