U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Bioactive Chemicals Research Laboratory — Boulder, Colorado

About the Laboratory

The Bioactive Chemicals Research Laboratory applies a collaborative transdisciplinary approach to conduct research to minimize the risk to human and aquatic organism health from exposure to contaminants in water supplies. This laboratory integrates analytical chemistry, modeling, laboratory-, and field-based experiments to identify and quantify key processes to better understand the complex hydrological-chemical-biological interactions and engineering impacts (for example water infrastructure, treatment technologies, water reuse practices) that occur in aquatic environments, and to develop modeling tools to analyze and predict outcomes regarding water quality, availability, and biological effects.

Aquariums where male fathead minnows were exposed to the effluent from a wastewater treatment plant.
Aquariums where male fathead minnows were exposed to the effluent from a wastewater treatment plant.

Analytical Chemistry Capabilities and Instrumentation

  • Quantitative, high resolution gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) used for trace analysis of emerging contaminants, both nonpolar and polar (after chemical derivatization steps)
  • Extraction equipment for a variety of matrices (aqueous, sediment, tissue)
  • Characterization of total and dissolved aquatic and sediment organic carbon
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) for high-throughput aqueous and tissue analysis of priority contaminants
  • Major and trace elements by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and ICP-MS, and ion chromatography (IC)
  • Custom method development
  • Mobile field contaminant-exposure laboratory
  • Whole organism, cellular, and molecular bioassays
  • Geographic Information System analyses of exposure pathways

Key Chemical Analysis Capabilities

A wide range of biologically active trace organic constituents (including pharmaceuticals, consumer products, pesticides, hormones, sterols, and sugars) are typically measured as part of the comprehensive water analyses conducted, which also includes field parameters, nutrients, organic carbon, major ions, trace elements, and biological impact assessments.

Stacks of experimental fish tanks in side a laboratory trailer
Fish tanks inside an onsite laboratory where fathead minnows were exposed to untreated and treated wastewater for 28 days to test for possible endocrine disruption. Photo credit: Alan Vajda, University of Colorado.

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Page Last Modified: 18-Apr-2018 @ 01:01:19 PM EDT