Environmental Health - Toxic Substances
Toxic Substances Hydrology Program Investigations
The USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program has studies focused on issues of national concern including contaminants associated with unconventional oil and gas and uranium extractions, home and personal-care products, agricultural production, industrial processes.
The USGS is investigating the occurrence and environmental effects of complex mixtures of both natural and man-made chemicals in environmental waters.
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 treatment.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.