U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Environmental Health Science Feature Articles

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Colonies of the bacteria Bacillus globigii on a petri dish

New Approaches Coupled with Interactive Mapping Application Provide Tool to Visualize the Occurrence of Soil Pathogens

Scientists optimized existing methods to collect and identify microorganisms including Bacillus anthracis, a pathogenic microorganism, in 4,800 soil samples across the United States, and developed a geographic information system (GIS)-based mapping application to visualize microorganism occurrence throughout the United States. ...

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Forster's tern (Sterna forsteri) while hunting in flight

Body Symmetry in Forster's Terns Related to Mercury Exposure

Body symmetry of Forster's terns (Sterna forsteri) in the San Francisco Bay is related to blood and feather mercury concentrations. Body asymmetry can affect a bird's fitness by reducing flight efficiency, thus increasing energetic costs (especially during migration) and interrupting normal feeding and breeding behaviors. ...

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A scientist working in a laboratory

Comparison of Predicted and Measured Pharmaceutical Concentrations in Streams

New study evaluated if predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) of pharmaceuticals (based on pharmaceutical usage data, degree of metabolism in humans, removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and environmental dilution), reflect actual measured environmental concentrations (MECs) in two stream systems of different sizes and demographics. ...

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Occurrence of Avian Influenza Virus in Groundwater—Study Provides Baseline Data and Informs Future Studies

A pilot study provided the first baseline data on avian influenza virus (AIV) occurrence in underlying groundwater and documented the challenges for conducting a pathogen transport study during a disease outbreak. ...

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A bloom of cyanobacteria near the shore of Milford Lake, Kansas

New Method Developed to Quantify Spatial Extent of Cyanobacterial Blooms

Study provides a method for quantifying changes in the spatial extent of cyanobacterial blooms at local and regional scales using remotely sensed data to determine if bloom occurrence and size is increasing or decreasing in inland water resources. ...

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Cedar Creek in Congaree National Park, SC, showing old growth bottomland hardwood forest

Sources of Commonly Used Chemicals to National Parks—USGS and National Park Service Working Together

A National Park Service (NPS) and USGS study determined the concentrations, potential for degradation, and potential for aquatic and terrestrial animal exposure to organic contaminants in water and sediment within the flood-plain/aquatic environments of Congaree National Park which is located downstream from urban and agricultural areas. ...

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Dr. Carol U. Meteyer examining a bat

USGS Scientists Receive Award for Pioneering Work on White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

Dr. Carol U. Meteyer and Dr. David S. Blehert received the Tom Thorne and Beth Williams Memorial Award from the Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians for their pioneering work on white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats. ...

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USGS scientist recording water-quality parameters

Evaluation of Radon in Groundwater and Indoor Air in Pennsylvania

Existing groundwater and indoor air radon-222, hereafter referred to as "radon", concentrations were aggregated and evaluated for 16 geologic units throughout the state of Pennsylvania to provide a better understanding of potential human exposure to radon. ...

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Screen shot of the USGS interactive trend mapper_

Interactive Map Provides a Long-Term Look at Changes in River and Stream Quality

A new USGS interactive map provides a comprehensive, long-term assessment of changes in the chemical composition and quality of our rivers and streams over the last four decades. ...

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Photograph showing white-faced ibis nesting

Efficacy of Eggshell Analyses as a Nonlethal Method to Estimate Mercury Exposure in Bird Embryos

USGS scientists evaluated a nonlethal method to estimate mercury in the embryos of 23 bird species using mercury content in eggshells. This method was effective for a wide range of ages and species. ...

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USGS scientist at a laboratory fume hood preparing experiments

Enhancement of Trichloroethene (TCE) Biodegradation in a Simulated Groundwater System

This laboratory-based study provides information for understanding enhancement of trichloroethene (TCE) biodegradation in a simulated groundwater system. ...

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Scientists collecting samples of runoff from a test plot during a simulated rainfall event

Commonly Used Chemicals Transported to Agricultural Field through Municipal Biosolids Application

Commonly used chemicals (including fragrances, detergents, fire retardants, plasticizers, and antibacterials) transferred to wastewater treatment plants were detected in municipal wastewater biosolids applied to agricultural field plots and subsequently detected in the runoff transported from the plots during precipitation events. ...

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Dr. Bethany K. Kunz sets up a mobile-mounted dust meter

Program Scientist Receives Award for Research on the Effects of Road Dust Control Chemicals

Dr. Bethany Kunz received the 2017 Environmental Excellence Award from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for her exemplary research to advance knowledge of the effects of transportation on the natural environment. ...

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Municipal biosolids being loaded onto spreader for land application

Multi-State Survey Measures Parabens in Municipal Wastewater Biosolids

Study provides new information about the composition and concentrations of 5 parabens—preservatives in pharmaceuticals and personal care products—present in biosolids collected from 14 municipal wastewater treatment plants across the United States. ...

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Map of the frequency of cyanoHAB occurrence above the WHO high threshold - Florida 2008 through 2011

Satellite Imagery Used to Measure Algal Bloom Frequency—Steps Toward Understanding Exposure Risk

Study explores the utility and limitations of currently available remotely sensed satellite data for identifying the frequency of algal blooms in the Nation's lakes and reservoirs. This information provides a first step toward the goal of understanding exposure risk to protect the health of humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife. ...

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Microscopic image of Dolichospermum circinale - bar is 10 micrometers in length

Cyanobacteria from 2016 Lake Okeechobee Harmful Algal Bloom Photo-Documented

New report provides photographic documentation and identification of the cyanobacteria present in Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River, and St. Lucie Canal during an extensive algal bloom in 2016. ...

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Aerial photograph of a 2016 cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Okeechobee, Florida_

Evaluating Linkages Between Algal Toxins and Human Health

The amino acid β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) is produced by cyanobacteria and has been suggested by human health researchers as a causal factor for degenerative neurological diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinsonism, and dementia. An objective review concluded that this hypothesis is not supported by existing data. ...

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

Program Scientist Receives Meritorious Service Award

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli received the U.S. Department of Interior's second highest honorary award—the Meritorious Service Award—for her numerous contributions to understanding the biogeochemical controls of contaminant degradation in groundwater and near-surface environments. ...

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Two photos of Dr. Denise Akob (top) and Dr. Karl Haase (bottom) giving a laboratory tour

Two Scientists Receive Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

The USGS 2016 Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award was given to Dr. Denise M. Akob and Dr. Karl B. Haase. Drs. Akob and Haase have demonstrated outstanding leadership through their scientific accomplishments and service to the USGS. ...

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