Contaminants

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					U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Fisheries and Habitat Conservation

Environmental Contaminants Program
                                           Pollution is one of the American
                                           public’s greatest environmental
                                           concerns. Like the proverbial “canary
                                           in the coal mine,” fish and wildlife
                                           often signal pollution problems that
                                           ultimately affect people and their
                                           quality of life. The U.S. Fish and
                                           Wildlife Service (Service) is the
                                           primary federal agency dedicated to
   Our mission is                          protecting wildlife and their habitats
                                           from pollution’s harmful effects,




                                                                                                                                                       USFWS
   working with others                     helping to create a healthier world for
                                           all living things.
                                                                                                             Oiled crested auklet from M/V
   to conserve, protect,                   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service                                    Selendang Ayu spill. The spill occurred
                                           Environmental Contaminants (EC)                                   on December 8, 2004 and impacted the
                                           Biologists have unique expertise and                              Alaska Maritime National Wildlife
   and enhance fish,                        experience that sets them apart from                              Refuge. Nearly half a million gallons
                                           other biologists in the Service. They are                         of fuel were spilled. This was the
                                           experts on:                                                       biggest spill in Alaska since Exxon
   wildlife, and plants                        Oil and chemical spill response,                              Valdez.

                                               Restoring habitats harmed by                                  Service’s Contaminants Biologists
   and their habitats for                      pollution,                                                    regularly work as partners with other
                                                                                                             agencies and organizations that have
                                               Water quality effects on fish and                             come to rely on our expertise.
   the continuing benefit                       wildlife, and
                                                                                                             SPILL RESPONSE
                                               Pesticide effects on fish and                                 Serious, long-term ecological damage
   of the American                             wildlife.                                                     often accompanies major oil and
                                                                                                             hazardous waste spills. To prevent or
   people.                                 The EC Program’s operations are                                   reduce the impacts of these events
                                           interwoven with all other Service                                 on fish, wildlife and their habitats,
                                           activities, and the                                               the Service’s EC Program places
                                                                                                             a strong emphasis on pre-spill
                                                                                                             contingency planning at local, state,
                                                                                                             and national levels. During a spill,
                                                                                                             EC Biologists advise the Federal On-
                                                                                                             Scene Coordinator about possible
                                                                                                             impacts of response actions to
                                                                                                             threatened and endangered species,
                                                                                                             migratory birds, anadromous fish,
                                                                                                             some marine mammals, and Service
                                                                                                             lands. Environmental Contaminant
                                                                                                             Biologists also oversee the collection
                                                                                   Dolores Savignano/USFWS




                                                                                                             and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife and
                                                                                                             evaluate the extent of wildlife injury
                                                                                                             caused by a spill.

                                                                                                             RESTORATION
                                                                                                             Service Contaminant Biologists play
                                                                                                             a major role in restoring habitats
                                                                                                             and natural resources degraded by
 This mussel release is part of a program to restore mussels in the Clinch                                   pollution. The entities responsible
 River. In 1998, nearly all aquatic life for seven miles was killed when over                                for spilling oil or releasing hazardous
 1,300 gallons of a toxic chemical were spilled.
                                                                impacts of pesticides, EC Biologists
                                                                work cooperatively with EPA during
                                                                pesticide registration and labeling.
                                                                National Wildlife Refuges use
                                                                pesticides as part of an integrated
                                                                pest management (IPM) approach




                                                                                                                                                              Mike Horne/USFWS
                                                                to manage invasive plant and animal
                                                                species or potential disease carrying
                                                                organisms, like mosquitoes. When
                                                                Service land managers determine that
                                                                pesticide use will be necessary, EC
                                                                Biologists help to ensure fish, wildlife,
                                                                and people are protected through an         A former sludge pit that was


                                         Phyllis Cooper/USFWS
                                                                internal pesticide use proposal review      contaminated with cadmium, lead,
                                                                and approval process.                       and zinc, now cleaned and converted
                                                                                                            to a lush vernal pool that provides
                                                                INVESTIGATIONS                              valuable breeding habitat for New
                                                                The EC Program designs and conducts         Jersey endangered blue-spotted
                                                                investigations to identify and quantify     salamanders.
The Environmental Contaminants                                  contaminant impacts to fish and wildlife    Affairs, and Law Enforcement.
Program works to ensure clean water                             resources on and off Service lands.         Our Analytical Control Facility is
and healthy habitats throughout the                             The investigations result in specific       responsible for sample analysis,
United States. Father and son fishing                           management actions, which prevent,          sample quality control, and database
at Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge.                            reduce, or eliminate these impacts.         management. This emphasis on quality
                                                                Recent examples include investigating       assurance results in high quality data
substances are liable for restoring                             contaminants in fish feed and fish          that decision-makers can rely on for
or funding restoration of natural                               raised at National Fish Hatcheries, and     making management decisions. The
resources affected. In partnership                              an ongoing cooperative effort between       EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, Department
with other affected state, tribal, and                          the United States and Canada to             of Defense, or other Federal or State
federal natural resource trustees, EC                           determine the sources of lead causing       agencies responsible for cleaning
Biologists plan and implement natural                           trumpeter swan poisonings and die-          up contaminated areas often call on
resource restoration activities.                                offs.                                       EC Biologists to ensure that fish
                                                                                                            and wildlife and their habitats are
WATER QUALITY                                                   HEALTHY NATIONAL WILDLIFE HABITAT           adequately protected during, and upon
Aquatic species are declining at an                              Approximately 17% of National              completion of, the cleanup.
alarming rate. More than 400 aquatic                            Wildlife Refuges have major
species either have, or need, special                           contaminant issues that must be
protection in at least part of their                            addressed. Refuges face a wide variety
natural or historic range. These                                of contaminant threats including




                                                                                                                                                  Roxanna Hinzman/USFWS
species include important recreational                          impaired air and water quality and
and commercial fish such as salmon,                             an ongoing threat of spills. EC
sturgeon, and trout. The Service’s EC                           Biologists investigate potential sources
Program helps the U.S. Environmental                            of contamination on refuge lands,
Protection Agency (EPA) and others                              prioritize cleanups, and assist Refuge
evaluate how water pollutants affect                            Managers on cleanup and restoration.
fish and wildlife and their habitats. This                      EC Biologists survey lands prior to
information is critical for developing                          acquisition to prevent the Service from
effective water quality standards, which                                                                    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
                                                                unknowingly acquiring contaminated
protect these valuable resources and                                                                        Environmental Contaminants
                                                                parcels that will be costly to clean up.
the watersheds that support them.                                                                           Biologists conducted shoreline and
                                                                                                            aerial assessments after Hurricane
                                                                TECHNICAL SUPPORT
PESTICIDES AND PEST MANAGEMENT                                                                              Katrina to locate hazardous materials
                                                                The EC Program provides
Pesticides can benefit society when                                                                         that threatened human health and the
                                                                contaminants expertise to all Service
used to manage disease-causing                                                                              environment. This drum was marked
                                                                programs including the National
organisms and other pests. Pesticides                                                                       and mapped to facilitate retrieval by
                                                                Wildlife Refuge System, Endangered
also pose some risk to the environment.                                                                     EPA.
                                                                Species, Migratory Birds, Fisheries,
To prevent and minimize unintended                              Marine Mammals, International


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service                                    For more information please contact:
1 800/344 WILD                                                  Division of Environmental Quality
http://www.fws.gov                                              4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 322
                                                                Arlington, VA 22203
                                                                703/358 2148
                                                                http://contaminants@fws.gov                             October 2005