U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Environmental Health Mission Area

"Everything we do is designed to safeguard the Nation's health, economy, and resources"

Our Mission

A search of the internet and news cycles on any given day indicate that the American public, health organizations, industry, and government agencies want to know if contaminants and pathogens in the environment pose a risk to the health of humans, pets, livestock, or wildlife.Often the actual risk is not known. Sometimes the potential risk is overstated, sometimes it is unknown, and sometimes it does have an important impact on health.

The public demands answers to questions such as: "Will my pet dog be harmed by swimming in a pond full of algae?"; "Does tapwater from my privately owned well have contaminants or pathogens in it that can harm my health?"; "Do hurricanes increase my chances of getting sick from contaminants or pathogens released into water, air, or soils?"

Industry and government agencies need answers to questions about the actual risk, not the perceived risk, of contaminants associated with natural resource development and utilization.

Hunters and anglers want to know if contaminants or pathogens in the environment are harming fish or game, and whether these animals are safe to eat.

When land resource managers use chemicals to control invasive plants and animals they must understand if the public, or native species such as fish, plants, or wildlife can come in contact with toxic levels in the environment.

Without clear answers to these and similar questions, media attention to and fears about potential health impacts often lead to litigation, economic uncertainties and uninformed decision making.

Learn More

Environmental Health Information

USGS GeoHealth Newsletter

GeoHealth Newsletter Logo

The U.S. Geological Survey's Environmental Health Newsletter

Learn More

Environmental Health Programs

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

Contaminant Biology

The USGS Contaminant Biology Program develops and applies advanced laboratory methods and field investigations to understand potential biological health effects from exposures to chemical and microbial hazards in the environment.

Learn More

sampling landfill leachate

Toxic Substances Hydrology

The USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program develops and applies advanced analytical methods, field investigations, laboratory studies, and modeling capabilities to understand the sources, movement, and exposure pathways of chemical and microbial hazards in the environment.

Learn More