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Environmental Health Science Feature Articles

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USGS scientist measuring dissolved oxygen

Trace Levels of Organic Chemicals Limited to Local Reaches of a Stream near an Oil and Gas Wastewater Disposal Facility

Organic contaminants that were present in Wolf Creek near a wastewater disposal facility were not evident farther downstream where Wolf Creek enters the New River. Wolf Creek and the New River are used for drinking water and recreational purposes. ...

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USGS scientist collecting groundwater samples

Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances From Firefighting and Domestic Wastewater Remain in Groundwater for Decades

New study explores the persistence and transport of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) that originated from both firefighting and domestic wastewater sources. Although the fire training area and wastewater facility were decommissioned over 20 years ago, both sites continue to be sources of PFASs to groundwater. ...

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USGS scientist collecting water-quality samples from the Enoree River, SC

Study Highlights the Complexity of Chemical Mixtures in United States Streams

A new study highlights the complexity of chemical mixtures in streams and advances the understanding of wildlife and human exposure to complex chemical mixtures. ...

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Golden eagle chick in nest with ground squirrel and raptor carcasses

New Method Improves Measurement of Bullet Fragments in Culled Varmints

A creative combination of radiography and techniques borrowed from meat processing and gold prospecting led to a better method for determining the lead content in ground squirrels shot by hunters to evaluate potential exposure risk to avian scavengers such as golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). ...

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A water tank

Understanding Chemical and Microbial Contaminants in Public Drinking Water

Collaborative joint agency study provides nationally consistent and rigorously quality-assured datasets on a wide range of chemical and microbial contaminants present in source and treated public drinking water supplies. Tap water was not analyzed in this study. ...

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Tree swallow nestlings (Tachycineta bicolor) in a nesting box

Low Levels of Contaminants Found in Great Lakes Tree Swallow Nestlings

Tree swallow nestlings at most study sites in the Great Lakes basin were minimally exposed to organic contaminants. ...

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USGS scientists recording inforamtion on water-quality samples and field water-quality parameters

Scientists Start at the Base of the Food Chain to Understand Contaminant Effects on Energy Cycling in Streams

Stream food webs are complex and depend on the successful breakdown of energy sources at the base of the food web. Alterations in the energy flow at the base of the food web can result in changes for organisms at higher trophic levels, such as fish and ultimately humans. ...

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Dr. Diann J. Prosser examining a ruddy shelduck

Presidential Early Career Award Given to Environmental Health Researcher Diann Prosser

Dr. Diann J. Prosser was awarded the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. ...

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Dr. Keith A. Loftin in a laboratory

USGS Scientist Receives Award for Assistance with National Wetlands Assessment

USGS scientist Dr. Keith A. Loftin received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water's Achievement in Science and Technology Award for his contributions to the National Wetlands Condition Assessment. ...

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Screen shot of the USGS avian influenza interactive web application

Frequent Fliers—Web-Based Tool Aids in Understanding the Role of Wild Birds in Transmission of Avian Influenza

This visualization tool helps researchers and public health officials see how relations between poultry density and waterfowl migration routes affect the threat of avian influenza to people and the poultry industry. ...

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USGS scientist are collecting water samples on the wastewater disposal facility

Examining Shifts in Stream Microbial Communities Exposed to Oil and Gas Wastewaters

Shifts in the overall microbial community structure were present in stream sediments that contained chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas wastewaters. This work is part of a long-term study designed to understand persistence of chemicals from oil and gas wastewaters in sediments and water and how those factors might be related to exposures and adverse health effects, if any, on organisms. ...

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USGS scientist collecting a groundwater sample

Nitrate Addition Enhances Arsenic Immobilization in Groundwater

The addition of nitrate in a low oxygen groundwater resulted in the immobilization of naturally occurring dissolved arsenic and the conversion of nitrate to innocuous nitrogen gas. ...

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USGS Health and Environment

Assessing Contaminant Hazards Without a Critter—Advancements in Alternatives to Animal Toxicity Testing

During the past two decades, great strides have been made toward the development and use of ecotoxicity testing methods that reduce animal use or replace animals altogether with in vitro tests or in silico models. ...

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Iron precipitates in a stream - Man standing on gravel bar

Fish Diets Switch From Aquatic to Terrestrial Insects in Streams Effected By Metal Contamination

A riparian zone rich in terrestrial insects can provide an alternate food source for fish in metal-impacted watersheds. ...

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USGS scientist lifting a sample bottle from ice hole

Understanding Pathways of Unconventional Oil and Gas Produced Water Spills in the Environment

A new study measures the transport of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas (UOG) produced waters downstream from a pipeline leak in North Dakota. This work is part of a long-term study designed to understand chemical persistence in sediments and water and how those factors might be related to contaminant exposures and associated with adverse health effects, if any, on organisms. ...

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Body surface tumor diagnosed as a squamous cell carcinoma on a white sucker fish

Is White Sucker Tumor Prevalence in some Wisconsin Rivers Related to Environmental Contaminant Exposures or Other Factors?

The incidence of particular skin and liver tumors on white suckers collected from some Wisconsin rivers corresponded to the degree of urban development within the watershed. ...

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creen shot - USGS mapping tool - Decadal-scale changes in groundwater chemistry across the Nation

USGS Online Mapper Provides a Decadal Look at Groundwater Quality

A new online interactive mapping tool provides summaries of decadal-scale changes in groundwater chemistry across the Nation. ...

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Map of the prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater for the United States

New Study Shows High Potential for Groundwater to be Corrosive in One-Half of U.S. States

A recent USGS assessment of more than 20,000 wells nationwide indicates that groundwater in 25 States and the District of Columbia has a high potential for being naturally corrosive. The States with the largest percentage of wells with potentially corrosive groundwater are located primarily in the Northeast, the Southeast, and the Northwest. ...

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View of corn fields and USGS rain gage

New Study Measures Crop Bactericide, Nitrapyrin, in Iowa Streams

First-ever reconnaissance study documents the off-field transport of nitrapyrin — a nitrification inhibitor applied with fertilizers as a bactericide to kill natural soil bacteria for the purpose of increasing crop yields — to adjacent streams. This study is the first step in understanding the transport, occurrence, and potential effects of nitrapyrin or similar compounds on nitrogen processing in aquatic systems. ...

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A map of bladder cancer mortality rates among white men and women

Elevated Bladder Cancer in Northern New England—Drinking Water and Arsenic

Study finds bladder cancer risk was associated with water intake among participants with a history of private domestic well use. The trend was significant for participants who used shallow dug wells exclusively—a well type that typically has low arsenic concentrations but may have had higher concentrations historically. ...

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