The Contaminants Assessment Process
Threats to National Wildlife Refuges
The Contaminants Assessment Process (CAP) is a standardized
and comprehensive approach used to assess potential threats
posed by environmental contaminants to National Wildlife Refuges
as well as other Service lands.
The CAP process involves reviewing information available
on the ecological and physical characteristics of the Service
land and surrounding area relative to possible contaminant
issues. This review requires the primary investigator to compile
and interpret information acquired from various sources. To
facilitate the investigation, the Service's Division of Environmental
Contaminants and the US Geological Survey's Status and Trends of Biological Resources Program jointly
developed a data management system. The system retrieves and
organizes information from contaminants-related, on-line databases
maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In
addition, the CAP requires that the Primary Investigator acquire
data from other sources including interviews with refuge managers,
biologists and various experts as well as scientific literature.
Potential point and nonpoint contaminant sources and types
are inventoried and pathways that these contaminants may follow
to reach the area of concern are identified. Then, areas of
potential contamination are identified and the contaminant
The information summarized through the CAP can provide the
basis by which land managers select options to reduce contaminant
impacts on the species and lands under their stewardship.
The CAP also identifies Service-managed areas located downstream
or down-gradient from highways, railways, or navigation channels
that may be vulnerable to hazardous substance spills. Such
areas may then be targeted for baseline data collection which
could support future on-Refuge investigations, natural
resource damage assessments, or field work.
February 13, 2013