Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Program Science Features

Highlights of our latest research findings, and examples of application to real problems.

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USGS scientist at a laboratory fume hood preparing experiments

Enhancement of Trichloroethene (TCE) Biodegradation in a Simulated Groundwater System

This laboratory-based study provides information for understanding enhancement of trichloroethene (TCE) biodegradation in a simulated groundwater system. ...

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Scientists collecting samples of runoff from a test plot during a simulated rainfall event

Commonly Used Chemicals Transported to Agricultural Field through Municipal Biosolids Application

Commonly used chemicals (including fragrances, detergents, fire retardants, plasticizers, and antibacterials) transferred to wastewater treatment plants were detected in municipal wastewater biosolids applied to agricultural field plots and subsequently detected in the runoff transported from the plots during precipitation events. ...

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Municipal biosolids being loaded onto spreader for land application

Multi-State Survey Measures Parabens in Municipal Wastewater Biosolids

Study provides new information about the composition and concentrations of 5 parabens—preservatives in pharmaceuticals and personal care products—present in biosolids collected from 14 municipal wastewater treatment plants across the United States. ...

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Map of the frequency of cyanoHAB occurrence above the WHO high threshold - Florida 2008 through 2011

Satellite Imagery Used to Measure Algal Bloom Frequency—Steps Toward Understanding Exposure Risk

Study explores the utility and limitations of currently available remotely sensed satellite data for identifying the frequency of algal blooms in the Nation's lakes and reservoirs. This information provides a first step toward the goal of understanding exposure risk to protect the health of humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife. ...

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Microscopic image of Dolichospermum circinale - bar is 10 micrometers in length

Cyanobacteria from 2016 Lake Okeechobee Harmful Algal Bloom Photo-Documented

New report provides photographic documentation and identification of the cyanobacteria present in Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River, and St. Lucie Canal during an extensive algal bloom in 2016. ...

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Aerial photograph of a 2016 cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Okeechobee, Florida_

Evaluating Linkages Between Algal Toxins and Human Health

The amino acid β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is produced by cyanobacteria and has been suggested by human health researchers as a causal factor for degenerative neurological diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinsonism, and dementia. An objective review concluded that this hypothesis is not supported by existing data. ...

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Three scientists holding a sediment core. The core is in a plastic tube

Program Scientist Receives Meritorious Service Award

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli received the U.S. Department of Interior's second highest honorary award—the Meritorious Service Award—for her numerous contributions to understanding the biogeochemical controls of contaminant degradation in groundwater and near-surface environments. ...

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Two photos of Dr. Denise Akob (top) and Dr. Karl Haase (bottom) giving a laboratory tour

Two Scientists Receive Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

The USGS 2016 Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award was given to Dr. Denise M. Akob and Dr. Karl B. Haase. Drs. Akob and Haase have demonstrated outstanding leadership through their scientific accomplishments and service to the USGS. ...

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USGS scientist measuring dissolved oxygen

Trace Levels of Organic Chemicals Limited to Local Reaches of a Stream near an Oil and Gas Wastewater Disposal Facility

Organic contaminants that were present in Wolf Creek near a wastewater disposal facility were not evident farther downstream where Wolf Creek enters the New River. Wolf Creek and the New River are used for drinking water and recreational purposes. ...

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USGS scientist collecting groundwater samples

Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances From Firefighting and Domestic Wastewater Remain in Groundwater for Decades

New study explores the persistence and transport of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) that originated from both firefighting and domestic wastewater sources. Although the fire training area and wastewater facility were decommissioned over 20 years ago, both sites continue to be sources of PFASs to groundwater. ...

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USGS scientist collecting water-quality samples from the Enoree River, SC

Study Highlights the Complexity of Chemical Mixtures in United States Streams

A new study highlights the complexity of chemical mixtures in streams and advances the understanding of wildlife and human exposure to complex chemical mixtures. ...

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A water tank

Understanding Chemical and Microbial Contaminants in Public Drinking Water

Collaborative joint agency study provides nationally consistent and rigorously quality-assured datasets on a wide range of chemical and microbial contaminants present in source and treated public drinking water supplies. Tap water was not analyzed in this study. ...

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USGS scientists recording inforamtion on water-quality samples and field water-quality parameters

Scientists Start at the Base of the Food Chain to Understand Contaminant Affects on Energy Cycling in Streams

Study examines the potential adverse effects of fungicides on leaf decomposition by microbes and aquatic invertebrates. ...

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Dr. Keith A. Loftin in a laboratory

USGS Scientist Receives Award for Assistance with National Wetlands Assessment

USGS scientist Dr. Keith A. Loftin received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water's Achievement in Science and Technology Award for his contributions to the National Wetlands Condition Assessment. ...

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USGS scientist are collecting water samples on the wastewater disposal facility

Examining Shifts in Stream Microbial Communities Exposed to Oil and Gas Wastewaters

Shifts in the overall microbial community structure were present in stream sediments that contained chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas wastewaters. This work is part of a long-term study designed to understand persistence of chemicals from oil and gas wastewaters in sediments and water and how those factors might be related to exposures and adverse health effects, if any, on organisms. ...

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USGS scientist collecting a groundwater sample

Nitrate Addition Enhances Arsenic Immobilization in Groundwater

The addition of nitrate in a low oxygen groundwater resulted in the immobilization of naturally occurring dissolved arsenic and the conversion of nitrate to innocuous nitrogen gas. ...

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USGS scientist lifting a sample bottle from ice hole

Understanding Pathways of Unconventional Oil and Gas Produced Water Spills in the Environment

A new study measures the transport of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas (UOG) produced waters downstream from a pipeline leak in North Dakota. This work is part of a long-term study designed to understand chemical persistence in sediments and water and how those factors might be related to contaminant exposures and associated with adverse health effects, if any, on organisms. ...

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View of corn fields and USGS rain gage

New Study Measures Crop Bactericide, Nitrapyrin, in Iowa Streams

First-ever reconnaissance study documents the off-field transport of nitrapyrin — a nitrification inhibitor applied with fertilizers as a bactericide to kill natural soil bacteria for the purpose of increasing crop yields — to adjacent streams. This study is the first step in understanding the transport, occurrence, and potential effects of nitrapyrin or similar compounds on nitrogen processing in aquatic systems. ...

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Four photos depecting effects of exposure of fathead minnows to gestodene

Human Contraceptive Gestodene Affects Fish Reproductive Behavior

Short-term laboratory exposure of adult fathead minnows to the human contraceptive progestin, gestodene (GES), at environmentally relevant concentrations induced rapid and negative effects on reproductive health and suggests that wild fish may be similarly affected. ...

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USGS analyst performs DNA extractions in a laboratory

Swine Manure Application as a Source of Hepatitis E Virus and other Livestock-Related Pathogens

The presence of indicator bacteria, hepatitis E virus (HEV), and numerous bacterial pathogen genes increased following precipitation-induced runoff events in streams draining adjacent land surfaces in Iowa where swine manure was recently applied. ...

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