Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Sources and Source Pathways

Hogs in a confined animal feeding operation
Emerging contaminants can originate from a variety of animal- and human-waste sources. Pathways to the environment range from rapid and direct discharges of effluent into a water body to the slow leaching of stored waste through soils. Photo Credit: Kent Becker, USGS.
Four sample bottels filled with leachate
Sample bottels like these filled with leachate were analyzed for contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) including pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, household chemicals, steroid hormones, and plant/animal sterols. Photo Credit: Dana W. Kolpin, USGS

To effectively minimize environmental contamination it is necessary to understand potential contaminant origins and pathways to the environment.

A myriad of sources of emerging contaminants and pathways to enter the environment exist throughout the world. Sources and Source Pathway research activities address: 1) identification and quantification of the contaminants or groups of contaminants associated with major sources and 2) processes that govern how these contaminants enter the environment (pathways). Research on sources and source pathways includes:

Emerging Chemical Contaminants

Emerging Microbial Contaminants

Related Science Features

More Information


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: toxics.usgs.gov/investigations/cec/sources_pathways.html
Page Content Contact Information: webmaster@toxics.usgs.gov
Page Last Modified: 17-Apr-2017 @ 12:38:40 PM EDT