Science and Products
Pilot Study Provides Information on Contaminant Exposure from Tap Water at Residential and Workplace Sites in the United States
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with National Institutes of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and academia, completed a pilot study to provide information on contaminant exposure from tap water at 26 locations including public and private supplies. Public-supply tap water generally met enforceable standards for those compounds with standards. Samples consisted...
The public worries that uranium in natural geologic formations, mine tailings, dusts, water, and other geologic materials can pose a health hazard to humans and wildlife.
Our specialized teams of hydrologists, chemists, and geologists working together at a field site in the Grand Canyon region of the United States have shown:
Elevated uranium concentrations (above the drinking...
Science from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other entities has shown that a mixture of natural and synthetic estrogens and other similar chemicals are discharged from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to streams and rivers.
USGS and University of Colorado hydrologists, chemists, geologists, and biologists studied the chemistry and biology of Boulder Creek downstream of Boulder ...
There are no national databases or tracking of the number or frequency of manure spills in the United States. Some past spills have been shown to result from events such as equipment failures, over-application of manure to agricultural fields, runoff from open feedlots, storage overflow, accidents with manure transporting equipment, severe weather events, or possibly deliberate actions....
Our specialized teams of hydrologists, chemists, and geologists working together at field sites in Northeastern US after Hurricane Sandy have shown:
- Metal contaminants were released to the environment after Hurricane Sandy due to some dune restoration activities.
- In other locations the storm actually decreased contaminant exposures to bottom dwelling aquatic biota. ...
A growing number of human gastrointestinal, respiratory, dermatologic, and neurologic effects, as well as dog and livestock illnesses and deaths, in the United States have been linked to exposures to algal blooms in recreational lakes and stock ponds.
Some of the blooms contain cyanobacteria, which have the potential to produce cyanotoxins in freshwater systems. However, the connection...
Safe Drinking Water Act compliance addresses the safety of public-supply water systems. The composition of public-supply drinking water is generally only tested at the treatment plant, and not at the tap after traveling through the water distribution system. Only lead and copper are tested at a subset of residential and other taps. Testing of water in private wells is rare unless local health...
Are Tumors in Wild Fish Harvested in the Great Lakes Region Related to Contaminants in Water Resources?
Our specialized teams of scientists are working in our laboratories and at field sites around the Great Lakes in collaboration with other federal and state resource agencies to document the prevalence of skin and liver tumors. Tumor prevalence in white suckers (Catostomus commersonii), a fish harvested as a food source by local communities, is related to the degree of urbanization in watershed...
Are Spills Associated with Deep Well Injection of Wastewater from Oil and Gas Operations a Health Hazard?
We have specialized teams of hydrologists, chemists, biologists, and geologists working together in the New River Gorge National River watershed to answer this question.
Wastewater generated in association with oil and gas operations at this site is managed by injection in deep wells designed to safely dispose and contain contaminants in deep geologic formations.
About the Laboratory
The Bioactive Chemicals Research Laboratory applies a collaborative transdisciplinary approach to conduct research to minimize the risk to human and aquatic organism health from exposure to contaminants in water supplies. This laboratory integrates analytical chemistry, modeling, laboratory-, and field-based experiments to identify and quantify key...
About the Laboratory
Scientists at the Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory (OGRL) in Lawrence, Kansas, develop and employ targeted and non-targeted analytical methods for identification and quantitation of known and understudied algal/cyanobacterial toxins that can impact the health of humans and other organisms. Newly acquired (2018) instrumentation will expand...
About the Laboratory
Microbiologists at the Microbial Biogeochemistry Laboratory develop and apply innovative methods to measure key microbial processes. These methods are used to better understand how major biogeochemical cycles (carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and iron) interact with and control the speciation and fate of metals like mercury and selenium which can impact...
Reconnaissance of mixed organic and inorganic chemicals in private and public supply tapwaters at selected residential and workplace sites in the United States
Safe drinking water at the point-of-use (tapwater, TW) is a United States public health priority. Multiple lines of evidence were used to evaluate potential human health concerns of 482 organics and 19 inorganics in TW from 13 (7 public supply, 6 private well self-supply) home and 12 (public supply) workplace locations in 11 states. Only uranium (...Bradley, Paul M.; Kolpin, Dana W.; Romanok, Kristin M.; Smalling, Kelly L.; Focazio, Michael J.; Brown, Juliane B.; Cardon, Mary C.; Carpenter, Kurt; Corsi, Steven R.; DeCicco, Laura A.; Dietze, Julie E.; Evans, Nicola; Furlong, Edward T.; Givens, Carrie E.; Gray, James; Griffin, Dale W.; Higgins, Christopher P.; Hladik, Michelle L.; Iwanowicz, Luke R. ; Journey, Celeste A.; Kuivila, Kathryn ; Masoner, Jason R.; McDonough, Carrie A.; Meyer, Michael T.; Orlando, James L.; Strynar, Mark J.; Weis, Christopher P.; Wilson, Vickie S.
Concentrations of lead and other inorganic constituents in samples of raw intake and treated drinking water from the municipal water filtration plant and residential tapwater in Chicago, Illinois, and East Chicago, Indiana, July–December 2017
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Environmental Health Mission Area (EHMA) is providing comprehensive science on sources, movement, and transformation of contaminants and pathogens in watershed and aquifer drinking-water supplies and in built water and wastewater infrastructure (referred to as the USGS Water and Wastewater Infrastructure project)...Romanok, Kristin M.; Kolpin, Dana W.; Meppelink, Shannon M.; Focazio, Michael J.; Argos, Maria; Hollingsworth, Mary E. ; McCleskey, R. Blaine; Putz, Andrea R.; Stark, Alan ; Weis, Christopher P.; Zehraoui, Abderrahman; Bradley, Paul M.
Grand challenges for integrated USGS science—A workshop report
Executive SummaryThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of advancing the traditional Earth science disciplines and identifying opportunities to integrate USGS science across disciplines to address complex societal problems. The USGS science strategy for 2007–2017 laid out key challenges in disciplinary and interdisciplinary arenas,...Jenni, Karen E.; Goldhaber, Martin B.; Betancourt, Julio L.; Baron, Jill S.; Bristol, R. Sky; Cantrill, Mary; Exter, Paul E.; Focazio, Michael J.; Haines, John W.; Hay, Lauren E.; Hsu, Leslie; Labson, Victor F.; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Ludwig, K.A.; Milly, Paul C. D.; Morelli, Toni L.; Morman, Suzette A.; Nassar, Nedal T.; Newman, Timothy R.; Ostroff, Andrea C. ; Read, Jordan S.; Reed, Sasha C.; Shapiro, Carl D.; Smith, Richard A.; Sanford, Ward E.; Sohl, Terry L.; Stets, Edward G.; Terando, Adam J.; Tillitt, Donald E.; Tischler, Michael A.; Toccalino, Patricia L.; Wald, David J.; Waldrop, Mark P.; Wein, Anne; Weltzin, Jake F.; Zimmerman, Christian E.
USGS integrated drought science
Project Need and OverviewDrought poses a serious threat to the resilience of human communities and ecosystems in the United States (Easterling and others, 2000). Over the past several years, many regions have experienced extreme drought conditions, fueled by prolonged periods of reduced precipitation and exceptionally warm temperatures. Extreme...Ostroff, Andrea C.; Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Lambert, Patrick M.; Booth, Nathaniel L.; Carter, Shawn L.; Stoker, Jason M.; Focazio, Michael J.
Regional variability in bed-sediment concentrations of wastewater compounds, hormones and PAHs for portions of coastal New York and New Jersey impacted by hurricane Sandy
Bed sediment samples from 79 coastal New York and New Jersey, USA sites were analyzed for 75 compounds including wastewater associated contaminants, PAHs, and other organic compounds to assess the post-Hurricane Sandy distribution of organic contaminants among six regions. These results provide the first assessment of wastewater compounds,...Phillips, Patrick J.; Gibson, Cathy A; Fisher, Shawn C.; Fisher, Irene; Reilly, Timothy J.; Smalling, Kelly L. ; Romanok, Kristin M. ; Foreman, William T. ; ReVello, Rhiannon C.; Focazio, Michael J.; Jones, Daniel K.
Resetting the bar: Establishing baselines for persistent contaminants after Hurricane Sandy in the coastal environments of New Jersey and New York, USA
In the immediate aftermath of natural disasters, public health officials and other first responders engage in many activities to protect the public and ecosystems in the affected area. These activities include critical tasks designed to minimize adverse consequences resulting from chemical and microbial contaminant exposures, such as acute disease...Reilly, Timothy J.; Focazio, Michael J.; Simmons, Dale L.
Contamination with bacterial zoonotic pathogen genes in U.S. streams influenced by varying types of animal agriculture
Animal waste, stream water, and streambed sediment from 19 small (< 32 km2) watersheds in 12 U.S. states having either no major animal agriculture (control, n = 4), or predominantly beef (n = 4), dairy (n = 3), swine (n = 5), or poultry (n = 3) were tested for: 1) cholesterol,...Haack, Sheridan K.; Duris, Joseph W.; Kolpin, Dana W.; Focazio, Michael J.; Meyer, Michael T.; Johnson, Heather E.; Oster, Ryan J.; Foreman, William T.
Dairy-impacted wastewater is a source of iodinated disinfection byproducts in the environment
Iodinated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are among the most toxic DBPs, but they are not typically measured in treated water. Iodinated DBPs can be toxic to humans, and they also have the potential to affect aquatic communities. Because of the specific use of iodine and iodine-containing compounds in dairies, such livestock operations can be a...Hladik, Michelle; Hubbard, Laura E.; Kolpin, Dana W.; Focazio, Michael J.
Strategy to evaluate persistent contaminant hazards resulting from sea-level rise and storm-derived disturbances—Study design and methodology for station prioritization
Coastal communities are uniquely vulnerable to sea-level rise (SLR) and severe storms such as hurricanes. These events enhance the dispersion and concentration of natural and anthropogenic chemicals and pathogenic microorganisms that could adversely affect the health and resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems in coming years. The U.S....Reilly, Timothy J.; Jones, Daniel K.; Focazio, Michael J.; Aquino, Kimberly C.; Carbo, Chelsea L.; Kaufhold, Erika E.; Zinecker, Elizabeth K.; Benzel, William M.; Fisher, Shawn C.; Griffin, Dale W.; Iwanowicz, Luke R.; Loftin, Keith A.; Schill, William B.
Chemical and ancillary data associated with bed sediment, young of year Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) tissue, and mussel (Mytilus edulis and Geukensia demissa) tissue collected after Hurricane Sandy in bays and estuaries of New Jersey and New York, 2013–14
This report describes the methods and data associated with a reconnaissance study of young of year bluefish and mussel tissue samples as well as bed sediment collected as bluefish habitat indicators during August 2013–April 2014 in New Jersey and New York following Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. This study was funded by the Disaster Relief...Smalling, Kelly L.; Deshpande, Ashok D.; Blazer, Vicki; Galbraith, Heather S.; Dockum, Bruce W.; Romanok, Kristin M.; Colella, Kaitlyn; Deetz, Anna C.; Fisher, Irene J.; Imbrigiotta, Thomas E.; Sharack, Beth; Summer, Lisa; Timmons, DeMond; Trainor, John J.; Wieczorek, Daniel; Samson, Jennifer; Reilly, Timothy J.; Focazio, Michael J.
Genes indicative of zoonotic and swine pathogens are persistent in stream water and sediment following a swine manure spill
Manure spills to streams are relatively frequent, but no studies have characterized stream contamination with zoonotic and veterinary pathogens, or fecal chemicals, following a spill. We tested stream water and sediment over 25 days and downstream for 7.6 km for: fecal indicator bacteria (FIB); the fecal indicator chemicals cholesterol and...Haack, Sheridan K.; Duris, Joseph W.; Kolpin, Dana W.; Fogarty, Lisa R.; Johnson, Heather E.; Gibson, Kristen E.; Focazio, Michael J.; Schwab, Kellogg J.; Hubbard, Laura E.; Foreman, William T.
Estuarine bed-sediment-quality data collected in New Jersey and New York after Hurricane Sandy, 2013
This report describes a reconnaissance study of estuarine bed-sediment quality conducted June–October 2013 in New Jersey and New York after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 to assess the extent of contamination and the potential long-term human and ecological impacts of the storm. The study, funded through the Disaster Relief Appropriations...Fischer, Jeffrey M.; Phillips, Patrick J.; Reilly, Timothy J.; Focazio, Michael J.; Loftin, Keith A.; Benzel, William M.; Jones, Daniel K.; Smalling, Kelly L.; Fisher, Shawn C.; Fisher, Irene J.; Iwanowicz, Luke R.; Romanok, Kristin M.; Jenkins, Darkus E.; Bowers, Luke; Boehlke, Adam; Foreman, William T.; Deetz, Anna C.; Carper, Lisa G.; Imbrigiotta, Thomas E.; Birdwell, Justin E.
In Fiscal Year 2018 our two integrated programs – Contaminant Biology and Toxic Substances Hydrology Programs – provided essential information to understand the risks of environmental contaminants and pathogens.
"Everything we do is designed to safeguard the Nation's health, economy, and resources."
The USGS Environmental Health Mission Area (EHMA)—through its integrated programs, the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) and the Contaminant Biology Program (CBP) — will continue its non-regulatory, non-advocacy science throughout 2019.