Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Watersheds affected by active or abandoned hard-rock mining often have hundreds of mining-related sites with little information on their relative significance as sources of metals to the environment. Furthermore, natural weathering of the geologic deposits, which are sought out for metal deposits, can also be a source of contamination even in the absence of mining activities.
The goal of this investigation is to provide the science needed to understand the actual versus perceived risk to the health of humans and other organisms exposed to contaminants related to current historic production, transportation, and storage related to mineral production to support decisions of land managers and stakeholders. The investigation's goal is realized through a series of objectives to advance the understanding of hydrologic, geochemical, biogeochemical, and biological processes that affect fate, transport, attenuation, bioavailability, and potential toxicity of metals and metalloid contamination from hard-rock and uranium mining through field and laboratory based studies.
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. ...
USGS scientists developed an approach and collected baseline data to quantitatively assess offsite migration of mine-related contaminants and to identify critical contaminant exposure pathways that could result from uranium mining activities in the Grand Canyon region. ...
USGS scientists find that copper is directly absorbed from mineral particles when aquatic organisms living on the bottom of streams eat their food. ...
Access to all publications from this investigation.
A collection of photos illustrating this investigation's activities.
The research team for this investigation maintains several Web pages that contain additional information about different aspects of their research on contamination from metal and uranium mining.
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