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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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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Before and after photos of Fourmile Creek near Ankeny, Iowa

Recovery of Stream and Adjacent Groundwater After Wastewater Treatment Facility Closure

The hydrology and chemistry of a wastewater-impacted stream and adjacent groundwater responded rapidly (had fewer chemicals at lower concentrations) following wastewater treatment facility shutdown. However, the adjacent shallow groundwater remained a continuing source of some wastewater-derived contaminants to the stream at least 1 year post-shutdown. ...

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Freshwater snail -- Lymnaea stagnalis

Study Reveals Processes that Control Uranium Bioavailability in a Freshwater Snail—Relevance to Aquatic Biota in the Grand Canyon Area

Scientists refined an existing speciation model to identify key biogeochemical processes controlling dissolved uranium bioavailability to a freshwater snail. This information is important to advance current understanding and prediction of the ecological risk posed by uranium mining to freshwater ecosystems, including federally managed lands such as in the Grand Canyon area. ...

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Satellite image of a dust cloud from the Sahara Desert

Nutrients in Dust from the Sahara Desert cause Microbial Blooms on the East Coast of the United States

Saharan dust nutrients, particularly iron, deposited episodically in tropical marine waters stimulate marine microbial bloom growth and change microbial community structure. ...

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USGS scientist Denis R. LeBlanc

DOI Distinguished Service Award Given to Two Program Scientists

Two USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) scientists, Denis R. LeBlanc and Dr. Michael T. Meyer, received the Department of Interior's (DOI) highest honor—the Distinguished Service Award. ...

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USGS scientists prepare a tracer solution in a gas impermeable bladder

USGS Scientists Measure New Bacterial Nitrogen Removal Process in Groundwater

For the first time, USGS, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the University of Connecticut scientists have detected active anammox bacteria in groundwater. ...

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Natural-color satellite image of Hurricane Sandy

Persistent Contaminant Threats Following Hurricane Sandy—Establishing Baselines and Assessing Impacts

Potential long-term contaminant threats resulting from compromised infrastructure, beach erosion, and sediment disturbance were evaluated in the coastal environments of New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. ...

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USGS scientist taking measurements of field parameters in a stream

Bacterial Pathogen Genes in Streams related to Animal Type and Hydrologic Conditions

A USGS study elucidates the influence of animal type and environmental variables on bacterial pathogen occurrence in streams under typical watershed conditions. ...

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