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Ecological Exposure Research

Chemical Safety

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EPA's ecological exposure scientists are studying the potential for chemicals and other pollutants to find their way into streams, rivers and lakes. Using emerging technology, EPA scientists can determine whether a water body has been exposed to a chemical, assess the impact of that exposure to the water body and the organisms that live there, and study ways to prevent water pollution from occurring in the first place. Together, this research helps keep our nation's water resources safe from harmful chemicals and other pollutants.

Research in Action

Molecular Indicators (Exposure Biomarkers in Aquatic Organisms)
EPA scientists have found that plant and animal cells can change in very specific ways when they are exposed to chemicals and other pollutants To measure these changes, EPA researchers have developed biomarker-based methods that allow them to screen for molecular-level changes in aquatic organisms. These methods provide information about the concentrations of chemicals in aquatic ecosystems and the impact that chemicals may have on organisms that live there.

Relative Risk of Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater
EPA scientists are surveying 50 of the nation's largest municipal wastewater treatment plants and analyzing the samples to determine how much of 48 different pharmaceutical ingredients make their way from our medicine cabinets to our rivers and streams. Using this information, EPA ecologists will be able to better understand potential exposures to these pharmaceuticals, and develop new tools to help manage that risk.

Other Projects

Innovative Physical, Chemical and Biological Tools to Assess Sediment Remediation Performance
EPA scientists are studying rivers where new techniques are being used to help decrease sedimentation. When a river or stream has too much sediment, water quality downstream can suffer. EPA's ecologists are evaluating sedimentation reduction techniques to learn how effective they are, and what impact, if any, they have on the physical, chemical, and biological health of rivers.

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