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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

Environmental Occurrence

The first step in the road to understanding the fate of a contaminant is determining if contamination is actually taking place.

Experienced personnel collecting environmental samples
Experienced personnel use proven field methodologies that enable representative environmental samples to be collected.Using proven field methodologies to collect representative environmental samples
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USGS scientists sampling ground water from a well installed at a beach
USGS scientists sampling ground water from a well installed at a beach as part of a study of bacterial contamination at beaches
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Emerging Chemical Contaminants

An important component of emerging contaminant research is to determine the environmental occurrence by answering the fundamental questions: What compounds enter the environment? How often and at what levels do they occur? In what mixtures do they occur? These questions are addressed by field reconnaissance studies at national, regional, and local scales.

Emerging Microbial Contaminants

There is no question that bacterial pathogens, viruses, and protozoa, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria can enter the environment. The source of these contaminants is generally fecal contamination through release of human and animal wastes to the environment. However, little is known about the actual occurrence of specific microbial pathogens in the environment, or their relation to traditional microbiological water quality criteria. This project investigates the occurrence of selected bacterial pathogens in water at the national and watershed scales, determines their potential for virulence and antibiotic resistance by examining the occurrence of genes for these traits, and relates findings to microbial water quality criteria and to chemical measures of water quality, including the occurrence of emerging chemical contaminants.

Related Science Features

More Information

New Publications

Upcoming Publications

  • An introduction to joint research by the USEPA and USGS on contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking waters of the United States: Kolpin, D.W., Glassmeyer, S.T., and Furlong, E.T., Science of the Total Environment (IN PRESS).
  • The importance of quality control in validating concentrations of contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking water samples: Batt, A.L., Furlong, E.T., Mash, H.E., Glassmeyer, S.T., and Kolpin, D.W., Science of the Total Environment (IN PRESS).
  • Human health screening and public health significance of contaminants of emerging concern detected in public water supplies: Benson, R., Conerly, O.D., Sander, W., Angela L. Batt, J.S.B., Furlong, E.T., Glassmeyer, S.T., Kolpin, D.W., Mash, H.E., Schenck, K.M., and Simmons, J.E., Science of the Total Environment (IN PRESS).
  • A national reconnaissance of neonicotinoid insecticides in streams of the United States: Kolpin, D.W., and Hladik, M.L., Norman Bulletin (IN PRESS).
  • Rainfall runoff of anthropogenic waste indicators from agricultural test plots applied with municipal biosolids: Gray, J.L., Borch, T., Furlong, E.T., Davis, J., Yager, T.J., Yang, Y.-Y., and Kolpin, D.W., Science of the Total Environment (IN PRESS).
  • Nationwide reconnaissance of contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking waters of the United States--Pharmaceuticals: Furlong, E.T., Batt, A.L., Glassmeyer, S.T., Noriega, M.C., Kolpin, D.W., Mash, H., and Schenck, K.M., Science of the Total Environment, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.128 (IN PRESS).

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 30-Nov-2016 19:23:26 EST