Cooperative Water Program
Products > Ecosystem Health > Contaminants
All Contaminants Products
USGS Scientists Measure Mercury Flowing from Wetlands into San Francisco Bay, California –For the first time, scientists have measured the amounts of mercury flowing into the San Francisco estuary from tidal wetlands using a new technique that can measure concentrations of mercury in water every few minutes, which is essential for understanding mercury flows in a complex tidal estuarine environment. In two recently published studies, USGS scientists, in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game and University of Maine, found that interactions between land features, tides, and variations in weather, combine in unpredictable ways to determine how much mercury and methylmercury - the form of mercury that is most toxic and the form that accumulates in fish - is flowing into San Francisco Bay. (Journal article 1; Journal article 2) (Read more on USGS mercury studies.)
Emerging contaminants in Minnesota streams –USGS, in cooperation with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, St. Cloud State University, University of St. Thomas, and the University of Colorado, assessed endocrine active chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals of concern in surface water, wastewater-treatment plant effluent, and bed sediment, and biological characteristics in selected streams in Minnesota (USGS Data-Series Report 575; related report published in 2008 is USGS Data-Series Report 368)
Toxic Compounds in the Columbia River Basin, Oregon –A recently completed reconnaissance study, done in cooperation with Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, detected hundreds of these contaminants in water samples collected from wastewater-treatment-plant effluent and storm runoff from roads and other urban environments in nine cities that line the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington. The nine cities, in downstream order, are Wenatchee, Richland, Umatilla, The Dalles, Hood River, Portland, Vancouver, St. Helens, and Longview. Human activities, such as industrial production, transportation, and day-to-day living are sources of many contaminants that flow into the Columbia River. Scientific findings help water managers and policy makers in the lower Columbia basin make decisions about how to proceed with toxics-reduction activities. (Press release)
Urban contaminants and effects on ecological condition in the Little Blue River in Independence, Missouri –USGS, in cooperation with the City of Independence, Missouri, Water Pollution Control Department, evaluated sources of selected contaminants in urban streams and their effects on ecological conditions during base flow and storm flow conditions. (Full report)
PCBs in Massachusetts –USGS, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration, Riverways Program, released a report on polychlorinated biphenyls (or PCBs) in the Neponset River and Neponset River Estuary, Eastern Massachusetts.