USGS Western Ecological Research Center

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Forster's Tern nest.

Environmental Contaminants

The USGS Contaminant Biology Program investigates the effects and exposure of environmental contaminants to the Nation's living resources, particularly those under the stewardship of the Department of Interior. This information helps to:
       - Establish cleanup levels and restoration goals 
       - Assess risk and damage to natural resources 
       - Discern the role of contaminants in species declines and mortality
       - Monitor changes resulting from restoration or natural processes

Major research components of the program include: Chemistry, Toxicology, Contaminated Habitats, Integration and Assessment of Ecological Stressors.

WERC scientists investigate the distribution, biological accumulation, environmental fate, and adverse effects of contaminants broadly defined to include toxic substances (naturally occurring or anthropogenic in origin), sediments, and excess nutrients. Investigations include development of bioassessment and chemical methodologies, and spatial patterns of contamination. Examples of Environmental Contaminants projects include toxicology, contaminant monitoring, analytical chemistry, contaminant fate and effects, Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST), and biomarker development.


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