Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

Fathead minnow in a laboratory aquarium
Adult fathead minnows, such as this one, were exposed to treated wastewater effluent that contained pharmaceuticals to help scientists understand the effects of pharmaceuticals on fish in streams. Photo Credit: Megan Cox, St. Cloud State University.

Some chemicals that we use in our everyday lives including medicines (such as prescription and non-prescription drugs), personal hygiene products (for example, soaps, disinfectants, …) and their chemical additives (such as preservatives) are present in the environment and associated with various sources such as municipal wastewater treatment plants, runoff from agricultural and urban land surfaces, and septic systems. These contaminants are referred to collectively as “contaminants of emerging concern” and represent a shift in traditional thinking as many are produced industrially yet are dispersed to the environment from domestic uses.

This investigation identifies and quantifies the environmental sources, presence, and magnitude of environmental contaminants with the underlying theme of understanding the contaminants from their source to a “receptor organism.” The goal of the investigation is to understand the actual versus the perceived health risks to humans or wildlife due to low-level exposures from understudied chemical contaminants in the environment.

News

USGS scientists retrieve sampler from a boat

Understanding Associations between Mussel Productivity and Cyanotoxins in Lake Erie

Study findings indicate that cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins were not associated with mussel mortality at the concentrations present in Lake Erie during a recent study (2013-15), but mussel growth was lower at sites with greater microcystin concentrations. ...

A scientist working in a laboratory

Comparison of Predicted and Measured Pharmaceutical Concentrations in Rivers

New study evaluated if predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) of pharmaceuticals (based on pharmaceutical usage data, degree of metabolism in humans, removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and environmental dilution), reflect actual measured environmental concentrations (MECs) in two rivers of different sizes and demographics. ...

Scientists analyzing samples for viral pathogens

Occurrence of Avian Influenza Virus in Groundwater—Study Provides Baseline Data and Informs Future Studies

This pilot study provided baseline data on avian influenza virus (AIV) occurrence in groundwater underlying poultry farms and documented the challenges for conducting a pathogen transport study during a disease outbreak. ...

More Science Features

USGS sceintists sampling groundwater
USGS Hydrologists Tristen Tagliaferri and Irene Fisher sampling shallow groundwater downgradient of septic systems in Kismet, New York (Fire Island), December 2011. Photo Credit: Chris Schubert, USGS.

Publications

Library bookshelf

Bibliography

Access to publications from this investigation.

New Publications

Upcoming Publications

Newly Published

Multimedia

USGS scientist measuring dissolved oxygen

Photo Gallery

A collection of photos illustrating this investigation's activities.

More Information

USGS scientist taking measurements of field parameters in a stream

More Information on this Investigation

Get more information on the investigation's activities.

Connect

 

Back to Toxic Substances Hydrology Program Investigations Index

 

USGS Home Water Land Resources Science Systems Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Environmental Health Hazards

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page URL: https://toxics.usgs.gov/investigations/cec/index.php
Page Content Contact Information: webmaster@toxics.usgs.gov
Page Last Modified: June 16 2017