Archive for Measurement

In order to ensure that the tap water in your local area is safe to drink, you need to find out whether the contamination exceeds the normal levels. In most cases, the authorities will tell you they have performed several tests on the water and have found nothing wrong with it. However, their statement has often been found conflicting with the information provided by research institutes. Moreover, there are several cases of illnesses related to the contamination of the water supporting this theory.

Does the level of water contamination vary for every region?

Scientists have often warned the population regarding the risks they are exposed to by consuming tap water in certain states. You may or may not be aware that the ground water of every area comes from different sources, thus the contamination levels vary quite a bit. Underwater streams are affected by the level of pollution in the soil. At the same time, air pollution has a great impact on the rainwater. Therefore, if you are living in highly polluted region of the country, then there is a pretty big chance that the toxicity levels of the water deem it unsafe for consumption.

Read the rest of this entry »

Recent advances in laboratory methodologies made by USGS Toxics Hydrology Program scientists are providing improved capabilities for detecting large numbers of new and potentially harmful contaminants in our water resources at very low levels. There are many thousands of chemicals (including pesticides, human and veterinary medicines, personal care products, and other organic compounds) that enter our water resources by accidental spills, runoff from land applications, conventional waste-management practices and other mechanisms. Many of these compounds are known or suspected to have ecological or human health effects at very low concentrations. Development of capabilities to detect low concentrations in aquatic environments is important for several reasons: 1) many compounds are used in relatively small quantities and therefore concentrations in the environment are low; 2) many degrade or are transformed to other compounds, thereby reducing environmental concentrations; 3) compounds can partition among various environmental media such as soil or sediment particles; 4) the complex mix of natural and manufactured chemicals found in environmental waters can mask the detection of contaminants of concern, and 5) some classes of contaminants may have ecological health effects at low levels.

These new methods provide crucial tools that are enabling scientists to determine:

  • The levels and mixtures of compounds that occur in the environment,
  • The mechanisms by which these compounds enter the environment (source pathways), and
  • The processes that affect the transport, persistence, and fate of the compounds in the environment.

Toxics Program scientists have developed eight new methods during the past year that provide improved measurement capability for many tens of contaminants, including methyl mercury, surfactants, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals. Analytical method development is a continuing research topic for Toxics Program scientists.

More Information

Related Headlines

Recent Publications

  • Babiarz, C.L., Hurley, J.P., Krabbenhoft, D.P., Gilmour, C., and Branfireun, B.A., 2003, Application of ultrafiltration and stable isotopic amendments to field studies of mercury partitioning to filterable carbon in lake water and overland runoff :The Science of the Total Environment, v. 304, p. 295-303.
  • DeWild, J.F., Olson, M.L., and Olund , S.D. , 2002, Determination of methyl mercury by aqueous phase ethylation, followed by gas chromatographic separation with cold vapor atomic fluorescence detection : U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-445, 14 p.
  • Ferrer, I., Schroeder, H.F., and Furlong, E.T., 2003, LC/MS analyses of cationic surfactants–Methods and applications, in: Knepper, T.P., Barcelo, D., and de Voogt, P., eds., Analysis and fate of surfactants in the aquatic environment: Amsterdam, Elsevier, Comprehensive Analytical Chemistry Series, v. XL, p. 353-383.
  • Ferrer, Imma, Furlong, E.T., and Thurman, E.M., 2003, Identification of Homologue Unknowns in Wastewater by Ion Trap MS: in Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, MS/MS and Time-of-Flight MS: Analysis of Emerging Contaminants. American Chemical Society Symposium 850, p. 376-393.
  • Ferrer, Imma and Thurman, E.M., 2003, Analysis of Emerging Contaminants: in Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, MS/MS and Time-of-Flight MS: Analysis of Emerging Contaminants. American Chemical Society Symposium 850, Ferrer and Thurman, eds, Chapter 1, p. 2-13.
  • Furlong, E.T., Ferrer, I. , Gates, P.M., Cahill, J.D., and Thurman, E.M., 2003, Identification of Labile Polar Organic Contaminants by Atmospheric-Pressure Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry, in: LC/MS/MS and TOF/MS: Analysis of Emerging Contaminants (eds. I Ferrer and E.M. Thurman) American Chemical Society Symposium Series Number 850 p. 175-187.
  • Lee, E.A., Strahan, A.P., and Thurman, E.M., 2002, Methods of analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey Organic Geochemistry Research Group – Determination of glyphosate, aminomethylphosphonic acid, and glufosinate in water using online solid-phase extraction and high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-454, 13 p.
  • Lee, E.A., Zimmerman, L.R., Bhullar, B.S., and Thurman, E.M., 2002, Linker-assisted immunoassay and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry for the analysis of glyphosate : Analytical Chemistry, v. 74, no. 19, p. 4937-4943.
  • Lee, E.A., Kish , J.L., Zimmerman, L.R., and Thurman, E.M., 2001,Methods of analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey Organic Geochemistry Research Group–Update and additions to the determination of chloroacetanilide herbicide degradation compounds in water using high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-10, 17 p.
  • Leenheer, J.A., Furlong, E.T., Ferrer, I. , and Rostad C.E., 2003, Charge Characteristics and Fragmentation of Polycarboxylic Acids by Electrospray Ionization/Multistage Tandem Mass Spectrometry (ESI/MS/MS), in: LC/MS/MS and TOF/MS: Analysis of Emerging Contaminants (eds. I Ferrer and E.M. Thurman) American Chemical Society Symposium Series Number 850; p. 312-324.
  • Lindsey , M.E. , Meyer, M.T., and Thurman, E.M., 2001, Analysis of trace levels of sulfonamide and tetracycline antimicrobials in groundwater and surface water using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry : Analytical Chemistry, v. 73, no. 19, p. 4640-4646.
  • Thurman, E.M., and Ferrer, Imma, 2003, Comparison of Quadrupole-Time-of-Flight, Triple Quadrupole, and Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometry/Mass Spectrometry for the Analysis of Emerging Contaminants, ACS Symposium, volume 850.
  • Thurman, E.M. and Ferrer, Imma, 2003, Comparison of Quadrupole Time-of-Flight, Triple Quadrupole, and Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometry/Mass Spectrometry for the Analysis of Emerging Contaminants: in Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, MS/MS and Time-of-Flight MS: Analysis of Emerging Contaminants. American Chemical Society Symposium 850, p. 14-31.
  • Thurman, E.M., Ferrer, I. , and Furlong E.T., 2003, TOF/MS and Quadrupole Ion Trap MS/MS for the Discovery of Herbicide Degradates in Groundwater, in: LC/MS/MS and TOF/MS: Analysis of Emerging Contaminants (eds. I Ferrer and E.M. Thurman) American Chemical Society Symposium Series Number 850 p. 128-144.
  • Zimmerman, L.R., Schneider, R.J., and Thurman, E.M., 2002, Analysis and detection of the herbicides dimethanamid and flufenacet and their sulfonic and oxanilic acid degradates in natural water: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, v. 50, no. 5, p. 1045-1052.
  • Zimmerman, L.R., Ziegler, A.C., and Thurman, E.M., 2002, Method of analysis and quality-assurance practices by U.S. Geological Survey Organic Geochemistry Research Group–Determination of geosmin and methylisoborneol in water using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 02-337, 12 p.
  • Zimmerman, L.R., Schneider, R.J., and Thurman, E.M., 2002, Analysis and detection of the herbicides dimethanamid and flufenacet and their sulfonic and oxanilic acid degradates in natural water : Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, v. 50, no. 5, p. 1045-1052.

[Source: http://toxics.usgs.gov]