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Environmental Health Science Feature Articles

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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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An algal bloom on a Lake Erie beach

USGS Study Identifies Factors Related to Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms

USGS scientists identified water-quality and environmental factors related to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms at beaches in Ohio. This information was collected as part of a long-term plan to develop site-specific predictive models for microcystin concentrations. ...

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Four photos depecting effects of exposure of fathead minnows to gestodene

Human Contraceptive Gestodene Affects Fish Reproductive Behavior

Short-term laboratory exposure of adult fathead minnows to the human contraceptive progestin, gestodene (GES), at environmentally relevant concentrations induced rapid and negative effects on reproductive health and suggests that wild fish may be similarly affected. ...

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M/V Selendang Ayu aground and broken in two on the shore of Unalaska Island

Damage Assessment and Restoration Tracking System (DARTS)—A new tool to support the Department of Interior's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program

A new, web-based interactive tool has been developed to increase access to the Department of Interior (DOI) Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program information. ...

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Game camera image of an osprey taken on Poplar Island, Maryland

Organic Contaminant Levels and the Reproductive Success of Ospreys in Chesapeake Bay

Changes in the regulation and use of some organic chemicals have caused environmental concentrations to stabilize or decline during the past 35 years coincident with a rebound in the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) population of the Chesapeake Bay. ...

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Foster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) while hunting in flight

Synthesis of Mercury Distribution and Bioaccumulation Across Western North America

The unique combination of natural processes and human activities present in western North America can strongly affect the exposure of fish and birds to methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury (Hg). ...

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tree swallow - Tachycineta bicolor

Low Levels of Contaminants Found in Great Lakes Tree Swallow Eggs

Tree swallow eggs at most study sites in the Great Lakes basin were minimally exposed to legacy organic contaminants and brominated flame retardants. ...

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USGS analyst performs DNA extractions in a laboratory

Swine Manure Application as a Source of Hepatitis E Virus and other Livestock-Related Pathogens

The presence of indicator bacteria, hepatitis E virus (HEV), and numerous bacterial pathogen genes increased following precipitation-induced runoff events in streams draining adjacent land surfaces in Iowa where swine manure was recently applied. ...

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Before and after photos of Fourmile Creek near Ankeny, Iowa

Recovery of Stream and Adjacent Groundwater After Wastewater Treatment Facility Closure

The hydrology and chemistry of a wastewater-impacted stream and adjacent groundwater responded rapidly (had fewer chemicals at lower concentrations) following wastewater treatment facility shutdown. However, the adjacent shallow groundwater remained a continuing source of some wastewater-derived contaminants to the stream at least 1 year post-shutdown. ...

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Freshwater snail -- Lymnaea stagnalis

Study Reveals Processes that Control Uranium Bioavailability in a Freshwater Snail—Relevance to Aquatic Biota in the Grand Canyon Area

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. ...

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Close up of the cyanobacteria Dolichospermum lemmermannii in a harmful algal bloom

New Guide to Help Identify Harmful Algal Blooms

To assist Native American and Alaska Native communities, USGS scientists developed a guide to evaluate algal blooms for the presence of cyanobacteria that are known to produce a variety of toxins. ...

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