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U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Environmental Health Mission Area defines the pathways of chemical and microbial disease agents in the environment needed to understand ecological and human exposures and subsequent health outcomes.

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Science Feature Articles

Science Feature Articles

Our Science Feature Articles highlight recent USGS environmental health science activities.

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USGS GeoHealth Newsletter

USGS GeoHealth Newsletter

The GeoHealth Newsletter provides information on new USGS environmental health science activities related to safeguarding the health of the environment, fish and wildlife, domesticated animals, and people.

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News

This picture was taken June 23, 2010 along the Louisiana shoreline in Barataria Bay and shows oil spilled from Deepwater Horizon
November 17, 2016

A new USGS-NASA study found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and compared the erosion from the spill with coastal changes Hurricane Isaac caused in 2012.

Sampling for aquatic invasive species in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
November 8, 2016

Studies on the aquatic food web, tree swallows, and the spread of contaminants take center stage at SETAC 2016.

Cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Okeechobee, FL (July 2016)
October 24, 2016

Building knowledge to protect ecological and human health

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
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Glacier Bay National Park
October 26, 2016

Human dimensions in the context of natural resource management refers to the ways humans value natural resources, resource management preferences, and how humans affect or are affected by natural resource management decisions. Natural resource management and policy decisionmaking require incorporation of sound biological, social, and economic science. SEA scientists...

Monarch butterflies are in decline
April 26, 2016

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

View of Cement Creek, Colorado
April 19, 2016

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.

USGS scientist lifting a sample bottle from ice hole
April 19, 2016

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.

White tanks used to hold the tracer injection solutions with tubing going to injection wells
April 19, 2016

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.

USGS scientist collecting a water-quality sample from Zollner Creek, Oregon
April 19, 2016

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.

USGS Mobile Atmospheric Mercury Laboratory
April 19, 2016

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.

USGS scientists collecting gas samples from the unsaturated zone.
April 19, 2016

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.

Four sample bottels filled with leachate
April 19, 2016

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.

USGS Scientist collecting water samples in a stream
April 19, 2016

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

USGS scientists collecting a water sample from a well at the USGS Bemidji Research Site
April 19, 2016

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.

USGS scientist with equipment used to inject fluids for a bioaugmentation experiment
April 19, 2016

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...

The Environmental Health Mission Area develops methods and tools to measure and assess the environmental health of watersheds and the organisms living in them. Our investigations generate and interpret environmental contaminant, biological activity, and effects data. All of which is provided to the public in our publications.

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A USGS scientists collecting a sample from a plastic bag with a pipet
June 6, 2016

Methods and Tools for Collecting and Interpreting Environmental Data

The Toxic Substances Hydrology Program develops new methods and tools are to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of collecting and interpreting environmental data; measuring and modeling the processes affecting contaminant occurrence, transport, and fate; evaluating the potential implications of existing contamination; and designing management and remediation alternatives.

USGS scientist collecting a water sample from Boulder Creek, Colorado.
April 26, 2016

Environmental Contaminant Data

Environmental occurrence data from studies that address a wide range of environmental media, and yield datasets on contaminant concentrations, including non-detections, and mixtures.

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Screen capture of the The SCoRR Mapping Application
March 15, 2016

The Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response (SCoRR) Mapping Application was developed to allow users to visualize and view information generated during this study. Additional datasets including Census data, the National Land Cover Database, and National Hydrography data are also provided for users to generate custom maps.

The USGS Environmental Health Mission Area publishes the results of its investigations in journal articles, fact sheets, USGS reports, and on the Web.

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Filter Total Items: 14
Seasonal sediment dynamics shape temperate bedrock reef communities
Year Published: 2016

Seasonal sediment dynamics shape temperate bedrock reef communities

Mobilized seafloor sediment can impact benthic reef communities through burial, scour, and turbidity. These processes are ubiquitous in coastal oceans and, through their influence on the survival, fitness, and interactions of species, can alter the structure and function of benthic communities. In northern Monterey Bay, California, USA, as much as...

Jared D. Figurski, Jan Freiwald, Steve I. Lonhart, and Curt D. Storlazzi
Figurski, J.D., Freiwald, J., Lonhart, S.I., and Storlazzi, C.D., 2016, Seasonal sediment dynamics shape temperate bedrock reef communities: Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 552, pp. 19–29, doi: 10.3354/meps11763
Conversion to drip irrigated agriculture may offset historic anthropogenic and wildfire contributions to sediment production
Year Published: 2016

Conversion to drip irrigated agriculture may offset historic anthropogenic and wildfire contributions to sediment production

This study is an investigation into the roles of wildfire and changing agricultural practices in controlling the inter-decadal scale trends of suspended sediment production from semi-arid mountainous rivers. In the test case, a decreasing trend in suspended sediment concentrations was found in the lower Salinas River, California between 1967 and...

A.B. Gray, G.B. Pasternack, E.B. Watson, M.A. Goñi, J.A. Hatten, J.A. Warrick
Gray, A.B., Pasternack, G.B., Watson, E.B., Goñi, M.A., Hatten, J.A., and Warrick, J.A., 2016, Conversion to drip irrigated agriculture may offset historic anthropogenic and wildfire contributions to sediment production: Science of The Total Environment, v. 556, pp. 219–230, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.018.
Trend analyses with river sediment rating curves
Year Published: 2015

Trend analyses with river sediment rating curves

Sediment rating curves, which are fitted relationships between river discharge (Q) and suspended-sediment concentration (C), are commonly used to assess patterns and trends in river water quality. In many of these studies, it is assumed that rating curves have a power-law form (i.e. C = aQb, where a and b are fitted parameters). Two fundamental...

Jonathan A. Warrick
Warrick, J.A., 2015, Trend analyses with river sediment rating curves: Hydrological Processes, v. 29 no. 6, pp. 936–949, doi: 10.1002/hyp.10198
Water quality, sediment characteristics, aquatic habitat, geomorphology, and mussel population status of the Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee, 2009-2011
Year Published: 2013

Water quality, sediment characteristics, aquatic habitat, geomorphology, and mussel population status of the Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee, 2009-2011

Chemical, physical, and biological data were collected during 2009-2011 as part of a study of the Clinch River in Virginia and Tennessee. The data from this study, data-collection methods, and laboratory analytical methods used in the study are documented in this report.

Krstolic, Jennifer L.; Johnson, Gregory C.; Ostby, Brett J.K.
Water quality, sediment characteristics, aquatic habitat, geomorphology, and mussel population status of the Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee, 2009-2011; 2013; DS; 802; Krstolic, Jennifer L; Johnson, Gregory C; Ostby, Brett J. K.
Meeting the Science Needs of the Nation in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy-- A U.S. Geological Survey Science Plan for Support of Restoration and Recovery
Year Published: 2013

Meeting the Science Needs of the Nation in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy-- A U.S. Geological Survey Science Plan for Support of Restoration and Recovery

Buxton, Herbert T.; Andersen, Matthew E.; Focazio, Michael J.; Haines, John W.; Hainly, Robert A.; Hippe, Daniel J.; Sugarbaker, Larry J.
Meeting the Science Needs of the Nation in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy-- A U.S. Geological Survey Science Plan for Support of Restoration and Recovery; 2013; CIR; 1390; Buxton, Herbert T.; Andersen, Matthew E.; Focazio, Michael J.; Haines, John W.; Hainly, Hippe, Daniel J.; Sugarbaker, Larry J.
Environmental health science at the U.S. Geological Survey
Year Published: 2013

Environmental health science at the U.S. Geological Survey

Buxton, Herbert T.; Bright, Patricia R.
Environmental health science at the U.S. Geological Survey; 2013; FS; 2012-3142; Buxton, Herbert T.; Bright, Patricia R.
Beach Nourishment Impacts on Bacteriological Water Quality and Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics
Year Published: 2013

Beach Nourishment Impacts on Bacteriological Water Quality and Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics

A beach nourishment with approximately 1/3 fine-grained sediment (fines; particle diameter

M. A. Rippy, P. J. S. Franks, F. Feddersen, R. T. Guza, and J. A. Warrick
Rippy, M.A., Franks, P.J.S., Feddersen, F., Guza, R.T., and Warrick, J.A., 2013, Beach Nourishment Impacts on Bacteriological Water Quality and Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics: Environmental Science & Technology, v. 47 no. 12, doi: 10.1021/es400572k.
Review of samples of water, sediment, tailings, and biota at the Little Bonanza mercury mine, San Luis Obispo County, California
Year Published: 2011

Review of samples of water, sediment, tailings, and biota at the Little Bonanza mercury mine, San Luis Obispo County, California

Rytuba, James J.; Hothem, Roger L.; Goldstein, Daniel N.; Brussee, Brianne E.; May, Jason T.
Review of samples of water, sediment, tailings, and biota at the Little Bonanza mercury mine, San Luis Obispo County, California; 2011; OFR; 2011-1122; Rytuba, James J.; Hothem, Roger L,; Goldstein, Daniel N.; Brussee, Brianne E.; May, Jason T.
Geologic map of the Sand Creek Pass quadrangle, Larimer County, Colorado, and Albany County, Wyoming
Year Published: 2010

Geologic map of the Sand Creek Pass quadrangle, Larimer County, Colorado, and Albany County, Wyoming

Workman, Jeremiah B.; Braddock, William A.
Geologic map of the Sand Creek Pass quadrangle, Larimer County, Colorado, and Albany County, Wyoming; 2010; SIM; 3133; Workman, Jeremiah B.; Braddock, William A.
Digital tabulation of stratigraphic data from oil and gas wells in the Santa Maria Basin and surrounding areas, central California coast
Year Published: 2010

Digital tabulation of stratigraphic data from oil and gas wells in the Santa Maria Basin and surrounding areas, central California coast

Sweetkind, Donald S.; Tennyson, Marilyn E.; Langenheim, V.E.; Shumaker, Lauren E.
Digital tabulation of stratigraphic data from oil and gas wells in the Santa Maria Basin and surrounding areas, central California coast; 2010; OFR; 2010-1129; Sweetkind, Donald S.; Tennyson, Marilyn E.; Langenheim, Victoria E.; Shumaker, Lauren E.
Three-dimensional geologic model of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, south-central Oklahoma
Year Published: 2010

Three-dimensional geologic model of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, south-central Oklahoma

Faith, Jason R.; Blome, Charles D.; Pantea, Michael P.; Puckette, James O.; Halihan, Todd; Osborn, Noel; Christenson, Scott; Pack, Skip
Three-dimensional geologic model of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, south-central Oklahoma; 2010; OFR; 2010-1123; Faith, Jason R.; Blome, Charles D.; Pantea, Michael P.; Puckette, James O.; Halihan, Todd; Osborn, Noel; Christenson, Scott; Pack, Skip
A Review of Aeromagnetic Anomalies in the Sawatch Range, Central Colorado
Year Published: 2010

A Review of Aeromagnetic Anomalies in the Sawatch Range, Central Colorado

Bankey, Viki
A Review of Aeromagnetic Anomalies in the Sawatch Range, Central Colorado; 2010; OFR; 2010-1095; Bankey, Viki
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August 2016 (approx.)
The Avian Influenza Transmission Risk Model web application depicts the intricate connections between 16 layers of administrative, environmental, and economic data in an application that runs inside a web browser. To view and manipulate the full web application, please visit http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/ai . The full web application requires a web browser with a large amount of memory available. This...
Attribution: Environmental Health
August 2016 (approx.)
For more information on the movement of wild birds in Asia and how this relates to avian influenza viruses, see http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/ai . The autumn migration routes of bar-headed geese captured before the 2008 breeding season at Qinghai Lake, China, were documented using satellite tracking data. Our results showed that there were four typical migration routes in autumn with variation in...
Attribution: Environmental Health
August 2016 (approx.)
For more information on avian influenza, see http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/ai . Two currently circulating avian influenza viruses, highly pathogenic A(H5N1) and low pathogenic A(H7N9) (hereafter H5N1 and H7N9) are of particular concern due to their high case-fatality rates (approximately 60 and 30% currently), and economic impact to the livestock industry and public health system. H5N1 first emerged...
Attribution: Environmental Health
John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016
June 2016 (approx.)
John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter 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 2016.
June 2016 (approx.)
Scientists Andrew Ramey, Bjorn Olsen, and Jonas Bonnedahl (L to R) setting a trap for gulls at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016.
Gulls using beach at the mouth of Kenai River during the personal use dipnet fishery for sockeye salmon.
June 2016 (approx.)
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.
June 15, 2016
What inspired a USGS geologist to study how dam removal changes rivers. Profile of Amy East.
March 2015 (approx.)
The Hawaiian Islands’ beautiful ocean and beaches attract more than 8.5 million tourists each year. The USGS aims to help Hawaii preserve its underwater natural resources by tracing how oceanography may influence coral disease outbreaks. Looking into contaminants in the freshwater, or how quickly a bay may or may not flush, will help enrich future and past studies about the disease itself.
USGS Scientist collecting water samples in a stream
2014 (approx.)
USGS scientist collecting water samples and measuring water field properties at North Sylamore Creek, Arkansas, on January 7, 2014. Water samples were analyzed for over 700 chemicals and a wide range of biological activity and toxicity.
USGS Mobile Atmospheric Mercury Laboratory
2014 (approx.)
The USGS Mobile Atmospheric Mercury Laboratory has onboard instrumentation to measure aerosol concentrations and to continuously monitor mercury speciation and concentrations, air quality, automated wet deposition collection, and meteorological conditions.
cliff along Bull Run near Sudley Springs in Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia
August 24, 2014
Vegetation grows on an east-facing cliff along Bull Run near Sudley Springs in Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia. The cliffs are islands of specialized habitat; they support plant species found nowhere else in the park, including locally uncommon or rare species.
Cliff along Bull Run, Virginia
August 22, 2014
East-facing cliff approximately 30 meters downstream from Farm Ford along Bull Run in Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia.

In addition to news releases on our latest papers, we provide Science Feature Articles that highlight results from environmental health science activities across the U.S. Geological Survey.

See Our Science Feature Articles
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This picture was taken June 23, 2010 along the Louisiana shoreline in Barataria Bay and shows oil spilled from Deepwater Horizon
November 17, 2016

A new USGS-NASA study found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and compared the erosion from the spill with coastal changes Hurricane Isaac caused in 2012.

Cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Okeechobee, FL (July 2016)
October 24, 2016

Building knowledge to protect ecological and human health

USGS logo
October 3, 2016

As coastal development along the Gulf Coast continues to expand, tidal saline wetlands could have difficulty adjusting to rising sea levels.

Scientists Andrew Ramey, Bjorn Olsen, and Jonas Bonnedahl (L to R) setting a trap for gulls at the Soldotna landfill in 2016.
September 26, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Some gulls in southcentral Alaska are carriers of antibiotic resistant strains of E. coli, according to a new study co-authored by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image shows a man standing ankle-deep in a stream with an orange sampler
July 18, 2016

“Whatcha gonna do when they come for you”-thinks this week’s EarthWord...

Image shows a fish in a tank beneath a half-circle shelter
July 11, 2016

When you’re not dead yet, but aren’t feeling well either, there’s an EarthWord for that...

Coastal Change Hazards Portal screenshoot
June 7, 2016

New USGS models help predict storm effects on beaches

Map of the 48 contiguous states showing Microcystin concentrations
May 31, 2016

First-of-its-kind survey shows that algal toxins are found nationwide

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