Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Science Features from the Sewage-Contaminated Groundwater—Cape Cod, Massachusetts—Investigation

Highlights of research findings.

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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 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 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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USGS scientists collecting water-quality samples from shallow groundwater under Ashumet Pond

Importance of Lake Sediments in Removal of Cyanobacteria, Viruses, and Dissolved Organic Carbon

USGS scientists determined that the colmation layer (top 25 centimeters of lake sediments) was highly effective in removing cyanobacteria, viruses, and dissolved organic carbon during water passage through the lake bottom to aquifer sediments. ...

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Scientists measuring field water-quality parameters

Land Disposal of Wastewater Can Result in Elevated Mercury in Groundwater

Field studies conducted in the United States have shown that mercury concentrations in groundwater affected by wastewater disposal can exceed the drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (2 micrograms per liter of water, µg/L). Two recently published reports by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Maine, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) help to explain what can lead to elevated mercury levels in groundwater. ...

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A sidement core incased in a 2-inch diameter plastic liner being held on a table

Organic Contaminants Stored on Sediments Can Slow Down Groundwater Restoration

USGS scientists find that the amount of organic material stored on an aquifer’s sediments can slow down natural processes that are often relied upon to restore groundwater quality in a wastewater-contaminated aquifer. ...

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White tanks used to hold the tracer injection solutions with tubing going to injection wells

Antibiotics in Groundwater Change Bacterial Ecology

Unique study demonstrates that the ecology of natural groundwater bacteria changes after exposure to an antibiotic ...

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A USGS scientist prepares a tracer solution in a gas-tight bladder

Measuring How Nitrogen Transforms in Groundwater

New method to measure the rates at which inorganic nitrogen compounds, such as nitrate and nitrite, transform in groundwater developed ...

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A USGS scientist prepares a sample within a glove box

Antibiotics in Groundwater Affect Natural Bacteria

USGS scientists find adverse health effects on populations of native soil bacteria exposed to levels of the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole. ...

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