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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What toxic substances does the Toxics Program investigate?

A: The U.S. Geological Survey's Toxic Substances Hydrology (Toxics) Program investigates a variety of chemical compound classes that are common environmental contaminants. The following table lists the major chemical classes that the Toxics Program is currently investigating, examples of substances that make up the chemical class, and the investigations that address the chemical class in one form or another. The table is not an exhaustive list.

Substance Class Example Substances Investigation
Hydrocarbons Gasoline, Oxygenated Gasoline, Crude Oil, Jet Fuel, BETX (benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, xylene), MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether)
Solvents Trichloroethylene (TCE), Dichloroethene (DCE), Vinyl Chloride
Sewage Effluent Nitrate, Ammonium, Phosphate, Zinc, Copper, Surfactants
Landfill Leachate Dissolved Organic Carbon, Methane, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), BETX (benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, xylene)
Radioactive and Mixed Wastes Tritium, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Trichloroethene, Chloroform, Carbon Tetrachloride
Metals Zinc, Copper, Lead, Manganese, Arsenic
Organic Chemicals Creosote, Pentachlorophenol, Oil, Solvents
Mercury Mercury, Methylmercury
Emerging Contaminants Human and Veterinary Pharmaceuticals, Industrial and Household Wastewater Products, and Sex and Steroidal Hormones
Pesticides Herbicides, Insecticides, and their degradation products. Triazines (Atrazine and others), Acetanilides (Alachlor and others), Carbamates (Carbofuran and others), and many others

- For a more complete list of projects please see the Toxics Program's Investigations Page.

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