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Environmental Health Newsletter


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Vol. 12, No. 1 – 2015
A small creek with wells used for groundwater sampling

Chemicals Found in Treated Wastewater are Transported from Streams to Groundwater

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists studying a midwestern stream conclude that pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in treated wastewater effluent discharged to the stream are transported into adjacent shallow groundwater. Other mobile chemicals found in wastewater are expected to have similar fates. ...


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Spirit Creek, Georgia

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Persist Downstream from the Source

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were transported 2 kilometers downstream of a wastewater treatment plant outfall in a coastal plain stream. EDCs persisted downstream of the outfall with little change in the numbers of EDCs and limited decreases in EDC concentrations.

 

USGS scientists measured concentrations of ...


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USGS sampling truck with equipment used to sample well water. A scientist is in the truck

Commonly Used Chemicals Measured in Minnesota Groundwater

A team of USGS and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency scientists measured 127 organic chemicals in groundwater underlying urbanized areas in Minnesota. These chemicals include ones commonly used and consumed in our daily lives, in products such as human–use and veterinary pharmaceuticals, fragrances, surfactants, plastic components, and fire retardants. The chemicals are often called "chemicals of emerging environmental concern" because the risk to human health and the environment may not be known. ...

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Electron micrograph of channel catfish macrophages - 42TA cell line

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) White Blood Cells are Functionally Modulated by Estrogens

Estrogens are recognized as modulators of immune responses in mammals, but how these effects might occur in fish was not understood. USGS scientists published findings that fish white blood cells (leukocytes) have specific estrogen receptors—a discovery that moves scientists one step closer to understanding the connection between exposure to estrogenic substances and disease susceptibility in fish. ...

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Sea star with Sea Star Wasting Disease

Densovirus Calculated as Culprit Killing Sea Stars

A prime suspect has been identified as a probable cause of the "Sea Star Wasting Disease," a mysterious epidemic that has been killing these animals in droves along the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coast. Sea star die-offs have been observed in past decades, but none were at this geographic scale. Since June 2013, Sea Star Wasting Disease cases have been reported from Baja California all the way to southern Alaska. As many as...

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USGS scientist collecting a sample from a pintail duck

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected for the First Time in Wild Birds in North America

Scientists from the USGS are helping to track the movement of three strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) in wild birds. HPAI viruses are a concern as they are very pathogenic to poultry and some species of wild birds such as raptors. Infection can result in significant mortality of poultry and impact international trade of poultry products. In addition, ...

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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). Two recently published reports by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Maine, and the USGS help to explain what can lead to elevated mercury levels in groundwater. ...

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Power plant smoke stacks

Comprehensive Assessment of Mercury in Streams Explains Major Sources, Cycling, and Effects

A new USGS report, Mercury in the Nation's Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications, presents a comprehensive assessment of mercury contamination in streams across the United States. It highlights the importance of environmental processes, monitoring, and control strategies for understanding and reducing stream mercury levels. This report summarizes selected stream studies conducted by the USGS since the late 1990s, while also drawing on scientific literature and datasets from other sources. ...

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USGS scientist preparing water samples for glyphosate analysis

Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory Scored High on Proficiency Testing for Glyphosate

In a recent inter–laboratory comparison of 28 international laboratories, the USGS Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory scored A's for the analysis of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in this proficiency testing. Glyphosate has become the most widely used herbicide in the world since the introduction of genetically modified corn and soybeans and is a common contaminant in surface water. ...

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USGS scientist sampling a public-supply well

Public-Supply Well Pumping Regimes Influence Quality of Water Produced

USGS scientists studying the vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination have identified ways in which the seasonal operation of public-supply wells can affect the quality of water that they produce. By incorporating historical water-quality data into models of fluid flow, USGS scientists were able to estimate the amount of contaminated groundwater reaching a supply well under various seasonal conditions. ...

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USGS hydrologist sampling a public supply well

Contaminant Transport Models Aid in Understanding Trends of Chlorinated Ethenes in Public Supply Wells

USGS scientists used a mass-balance solute-transport model to enhance an understanding of factors affecting chlorinated ethene (CE) concentrations in a public supply well. They found that long-term simulated and measured CE concentrations were affected by dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) volume, composition, and by the bioavailability of organic carbon that drives biodegradation. ...

 

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Three scientists holding a sediment core. The core is in a plastic tube

Natural Breakdown of Petroleum Results in Arsenic Mobilization in Groundwater

Changes in geochemistry from the natural breakdown of petroleum hydrocarbons in groundwater promote mobilization of naturally occurring arsenic from aquifer sediments into groundwater. This geochemical change can result in potentially significant and overlooked arsenic groundwater contamination. Arsenic is ...

 

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USGS scientists Dr. Michael T. Meyer in the labortory

Recognition for a USGS Scientist in Service to Others

USGS scientist Dr. Michael T. Meyer has had a prolific career, publishing 60 journal articles and 45 USGS publications. Mike's publication record has recently led to his designation as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, ranking among the top 1 percent of researchers from 2002 to 2012 for most cited documents in their specific field (Environment/Ecology). ...

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Patricia R. Bright, Managing Editor
Michael J. Focazio, Managing Editor
David W. Morganwalp, Coordinating Editor
Carol U. Meteyer, Assistant Editor
Kathy E. Lee, Assistant Editor

2/25/2015

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