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

Volume 12, Number 3, 2015

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Native bee foraging on a native flower

Native Bees are Exposed to Neonicotinoids and Other Pesticides

A recent reconnaissance study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) demonstrates the first observed occurrence of pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides, in wild-caught native bees. The results indicate that native bees collected in an agricultural landscape are exposed to multiple pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. This reconnaissance study is the first step in understanding the exposure of native bee populations to pesticides in relation to the surrounding landscape.  ...


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Detail from a map that shows mercury source attribution in the Great Lakes

New Tool to Track Sources and Exposure Pathways of Mercury in the Environment—Application for Predatory Fish in the Great Lakes

The USGS and collaborators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new tool for attributing (fingerprinting) mercury sources to the Great Lakes. This new fingerprinting tool helps resource managers understand which mitigation strategies will be most effective for reducing mercury loading and exposure to fish and wildlife..  ...

 

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Graph-Maumee River-Increases in nitrogen concentrations coincide with nitrogen sources

U.S. Rivers Show Few Signs of Improvement from Historic Nitrate Increases

A recent USGS study provides a rare glimpse into how nitrate levels in 22 large rivers across the Nation have changed during the past 65 years. Despite the stabilization of nitrogen inputs in recent decades, there is no evidence of widespread decrease in nitrate levels in rivers.  ...


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Detail - Probability Chlorpyrifos Exceeds 4-day Moving Average Acute Fish Aquatic Life Benchmark

Predicting Pesticide Levels in Streams and Rivers—Where is Water Quality at Risk?

A new interactive mapping tool predicts likely concentrations for 108 pesticides in streams and rivers across the Nation. The tool can be used to(1) create maps showing where pesticides are likely to occur in local streams and rivers, and (2) identify which streams and rivers are most likely to exceed water-quality guidelines for human health or aquatic life. ...


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A scientist collects a groundwater sample with a syringe

Ethanol-Containing Fuel Spills Enhanced Natural Trace Element Release from Sediments in an Experimental Setting

Experimental field research simulating hydrocarbon spills by researchers from the USGS, Virginia Tech, and the University of St. Thomas showed that mixed ethanol and petroleum-based fuels increased the rate by which arsenic and other natural trace elements are released from aquifer sediments to groundwater when compared to petroleum-based fuels alone.  ...


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Fathead minnow in a laboratory aquarium

Complex Mixtures, Complex Responses—Using Comprehensive Approaches to Assess Pharmaceutical Effects on Fish

The occurrence of complex mixtures of prescription pharmaceuticals in streams and rivers around the globe has raised concerns about potential unintended adverse effects on aquatic organisms. The deleterious effects (for example, alteration of fish behavior) observed in this study confirm that effluents containing pharmaceuticals can adversely affect fish in ways that are central to sustaining populations and that the effects may not be temporally consistent.  ...


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Four sample bottels filled with leachate

Landfill Leachate Released to Wastewater Treatment Plants and other Environmental Pathways Contains a Mixture of Contaminants including Pharmaceuticals

New scientific research from the USGS details how landfill leachate, disposed from landfills to environmental pathways, is host to numerous contaminants of emerging concern (CECs).

 

Landfills are the final repository for a heterogeneous mixture of liquid and solid waste from residential, industrial, and commercial sources, and thus, have the potential to produce leachate—a liquid waste product that consists of a diverse mixture of chemicals as precipitation or applied water moves through the waste.  ...


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MERIS image showing cyanobacteria concentrations

Remote Sensing Provides a National View of Cyanobacteria Blooms

Four Federal agencies, including the USGS, are collaborating to transform satellite data into information managers can use to protect ecological and human health from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the USGS are collaborating to develop a method to detect and measure cyanobacteria blooms in freshwater systems using satellite data in order to support the environmental management and public use of U.S. lakes and reservoirs.  ...


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