The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) supports specialized teams of hydrologists, geologists, and chemists who develop and apply advanced laboratory methods and field investigations to understand how contaminants and pathogens enter and move through the environment. In collaboration with the Contaminant Biology Program TSHP works with our stakeholders within and outside DOI, including other government agencies, industry, NGOs, academia and others, who tell us we are uniquely capable of helping them protect that most precious of resources, health. We do this by filling the data gaps they have prioritized for us.
"Everything we do is designed to safeguard the Nation's health, economy, and resources"
A search of the internet and news cycles on any given day indicate that the American public, health organizations, industry, and government agencies want to know if contaminants and pathogens in the environment pose a risk to the health of humans, pets, livestock, or wildlife. Often the actual risk is not known. Sometimes the potential risk is overstated, sometimes it is unknown, and sometimes it does have an important impact on health.
The public demands answers to questions such as: "Will my pet dog be harmed by swimming in a pond full of algae?"; "Does tapwater from my privately owned well have contaminants or pathogens in it that can harm my health?"; "Do hurricanes increase my chances of getting sick from contaminants or pathogens released into water, air, or soils?"
Industry and government agencies need answers to questions about the actual risk, not the perceived risk, of contaminants associated with natural resource development and utilization.
Hunters and anglers want to know if contaminants or pathogens in the environment are harming fish or game, and whether these animals are safe to eat.
When land resource managers use chemicals to control invasive plants and animals they must understand if the public, or native species such as fish, plants, or wildlife can come in contact with toxic levels in the environment.
Without clear answers to these and similar questions, media attention to and fears about potential health impacts often lead to litigation, economic uncertainties and uninformed decision making.
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Our photo gallery contains photos and scientific images from current and past Toxic Substances Hydrology Program investigations.
Degradation of crude 4-mchm (4-methylcyclohexanemethanol) in sediments from Elk River, West Virginia: Environmental Science and Technology
A method for examining temporal changes in cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom spatial extent using satellite remote sensing: Harmful Algae
The importance of quality control in validating concentrations of contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking water samples: Science of the Total Environment
Field-scale observations of a transient geobattery resulting from natural attenuation of a crude oil spill: Journal of Geophysical Research--Biogeosciences
Stable isotopic composition of perchlorate and nitrate accumulated in plants--Hydroponic experiments and field data: Science of the Total Environment
Exploration of diffuse and discrete sources of acid mine drainage to a headwater Mountain stream in Colorado, USA: Mine Water and the Environment
The USGS Contaminant Biology Program develops and applies advanced laboratory methods and field investigations to understand potential biological health effects from exposures to chemical and microbial hazards in the environment.