Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

About the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

The Toxics Program's bibliography includes:

  • 5,611 total references
  • 4,170 on-line publications
  • 2,446 articles in peer reviewed journals
  • 720 publications on models and model applications
  • 929 publications on field and laboratory methods
  • 161 student dissertations

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) was initiated in 1982 to provide objective and reliable scientific information needed by stakeholders to develop policies and practices that minimize or avoid exposure to toxic substances, provide data and information, provide cost-effective cleanup and waste-disposal strategies, and reduce future risk of contamination. The known, suspected, and hidden threats to the health of humans and other organisms due to contamination of surface water, ground water, soil, sediment, and the atmosphere are among the most significant health questions facing the Nation. Contaminants including chemicals and pathogens enter the environment, often inadvertently, via industrial, agricultural, mining, or other human activities as well as through natural earth processes such as erosion and runoff.

TSHP investigations occur over a wide range of scales—from intense point sources, such as leaks or discharges from industrial facilities; to multiple, closely spaced releases, such as domestic septic systems; to relatively uniform releases that occur over broad areas with similar land-use practices, such as agricultural and residential land uses.

Fundamental themes that motivate short-term goals and knowledge products are:

  1. Process Understanding – Characterize the physical, chemical and biological processes that control contaminant source loading, transport and transformation in the environment.
  2. Measurement – Develop methods for environmental measurement of a wide range of physical, chemical and biological properties that control the rates of transport and transformation processes, and measurement of contaminants and their byproducts in environmental samples from different media at levels low enough to explain environmental processing and exposures.
  3. Modeling – Develop simulation models to assess environmental occurrence and potential exposure, by predicting contaminant transport, transformation, persistence, and fate, and to design management strategies, including monitoring networks, best management practices, and new techniques for waste disposal and remediation.
  4. Environmental Health – Document the exposure of environmental contaminants to humans and other organisms, and, in collaboration with the USGS Contaminant Biology Program, public health experts, and others determine the potential long-term health implications.


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