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Emerging Contaminants in the Environment

USGS scientists collected water samples in plastic bag to prevent contamination.
USGS scientists collected water samples for a study of neuroactive pharmaceuticals in Minnesota Rivers using specialized techniques to insure the samples were not contaminated. Photo credit: Molly Trombley, USGS.

Early spring view of a stream in Iowa with melting snow.
A team of scientists found the highest concentrations of mycotoxins in streams during spring snowmelt conditions in agricultural settings such as pictured in this Iowa stream. Photo Credit: Kate Holt, USGS.

A soil sampler in a farm field.
Soil sampling in Eastern Colorado indicated that some chemicals introduced to nonirrigated farmland through biosolids application persisted in the soil for up to 468 days, and some chemicals were sufficiently mobile to be detected in soil as deep as 126 centimeters below land surface. Photo credit: Tracy Yager, USGS.

A technician deploying a passive sampler in a tributary of the Shenandoah River, Virginia.
A technician deploying a passive sampler in a tributary of the Shenandoah River, Virginia, during a study of the biological activity of steroid hormones, such as glucocorticoids, in U.S. Streams. Photo credit: Luke R. Iwanowicz, USGS.

USGS scientist collecting a water sample from Boulder Creek, Colorado.
A USGS scientist collecting a water-quality sample from Boulder Creek, Colorado. USGS scientists have shown that many chemicals discharged from municipal wastewater treatment facilities persist for miles downstream at levels known, or suspected, to cause adverse health impacts to aquatic organisms—including endocrine disruption in fish. Photo credit: Jennifer Beck, USGS.

A USGS scientist prepares a tracer solution in a gas-tight bladder.
Scientists setting up equipment used to apply artificial rainfall to a small test plot on a field that received an application of biosolids. The scientists captured the runoff from the plot for later chemical analysis. Photo credit: V. Cory Stephens, USGS.

Diagram of the nitrogen cycle shows were antibiotics could impact denitrifying bacteria.
This diagram of the nitrogen cycle shows were in the cycle antibiotics could impact the ability of denitrifying bacteria to process nitrates and nitrites in groundwater. The diagram is a modified version of figure 9 from USGS SIR 2004-5144, page 16.

A USGS scientist prepares a sample within an anaerobic glove box.
A USGS scientist prepares a sample to test the effect of antibiotics on subsurface denitrifying bacteria within a glove box. A glove box allows scientists to work with samples in an anaerobic (no oxygen) atmosphere, the conditions under which denitrification occurs. Photo credit: Jennifer C. Underwood, USGS.

USGS scientist holding a biofilm covered stone from Boulder Creek, Colo.
USGS scientist holding a stone from Boulder Creek, Colo., that's covered with a biofilm. USGS scientists found that the biofilm that coats many of the stones on the bottom of the creek absorbs endocrine-disrupting compounds. Photo credit: Ronald C. Antweiler, USGS.

The Redwood River, Minnesota, with a plume of water dyed red with rhodamine dye.
Scientists used florescent dye and bromide to track river water to which two emerging contaminants had been added - 4-nonylphenol and 17β-estradiol. This allowed the scientists to study the natural attenuation of the two compounds as they were transported down the Redwood River, Minnesota. Photo credit: Jeffrey H. Writer, USGS.

Aerial photograph of the Boulder Wastewater Treatment Facility, Colorado.
The Boulder Wastewater Treatment Facility, Colorado (circa 2005), before the upgrade to an activated sludge treatment process. A team of scientists demonstrated that the upgrade to the treatment process at the wastewater treatment facility reduced the level of endocrine disruption in fish exposed to wastewater effluent discharged from the facility.

USGS scientists collecting a water sample from South Fork Iowa River near Blairsburg, Iowa
USGS scientists collecting a sample from South Fork Iowa River headwaters near Blairsburg, Iowa (Site ID 05451070) for analysis of phytoestrogens and some mycotoxins. The scientists collected 75 stream samples from across in Iowa during 2008. Photo Credit: M. Kate Holt, USGS.

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Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 24-Jun-2014 16:41:15 EDT