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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations

Contamination from Sources with Mixed Wastes

On-site facility for collection of soil-water vapor and unsaturated-zone gas from a deep borehole
On-site facility for collection of soil-water vapor and unsaturated-zone gas from a deep borehole for tritium and volatile-organic compound analyses. USGS scientists are conducting research on the transport and fate of tritium and other contaminants in desert environments with thick unsaturated zones.
-- from the Amargosa Desert Research Site
Bibliography 743 Publications

Many contaminant sources introduce a diverse and complex mixture of organic and inorganic contaminants into the subsurface, which can complicate characterizations of contaminant transport, fate and effects. These sources include landfills and wastewater discharges. The resulting contaminant plumes are difficult to characterize, manage, and remediate. Reactions among dissolved chemicals, reactions between dissolved chemicals and the aquifer material, and microbial reactions can significantly accelerate or retard contaminant movement and complicate natural and engineered cleanup. Ongoing research focuses on defining source mixtures, developing field methods for characterization, quantifying transport processes and development of simulation modeling capabilities. Current research focuses on the following three areas:

Landfill Leachate in Alluvial Aquifers -- Norman, Oklahoma

Sewage Contamination in Sand and Gravel Aquifers -- Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Mixed, Low-level Radioactive and Other Wastes -- Amargosa Desert Research Site, Nevada

Program Science Feature Articles on Mixed Waste Contamination Research

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