What We Do

Oil Spills and Hazardous Substance Releases

When fish, wildlife, and other natural resources are harmed by oil or other hazardous substances, we work with other response agencies to minimize negative impacts to natural resources from the spill and associated response activities. Our environmental contaminants specialists provide guidance regarding wildlife protection during spill response and remediation activities, and assist with search and rescue of oiled wildlife, so the animals can be cleaned and rehabilitated, when possible.

Learn more about our work to minimize impacts of oil spills and hazardous substance releases to fish, wildlife, and habitat.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration

Our environmental contaminants specialists are key members of the Interior Department’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, which aims to restore natural resources injured by oil spills or hazardous substance releases into the environment. When oil or hazardous substances are released into the environment, we work with state, tribal and federal co-trustees to determine the extent of injuries, and recover damages from responsible parties to carry out restoration activities to offset injuries.

Learn more about our role in natural resource damage assessment and restorationactivities. 

Biological, Toxicological, and Analytical Chemistry Support 

Through our Analytical Control Facility (ACF), we provide high-quality biological, toxicological, and analytical chemistry support to address environmental contaminant issues affecting fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. 

Samples are submitted through the ACF each year and are analyzed by one of our contract inorganic or organic laboratories. We work to ensure the accuracy and precision of the data results produced by the laboratories and maintain the data in a web application. Data generated by the ACF is used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and other bureaus within the Department of the Interior to identify and quantify contaminants in the environment, assess the overall biological effects from these contaminants, and provide recommendations and guidance to address contaminants and their effects on fish and wildlife populations and supporting habitats. Through this work, we have supported investigations of potential sources of environmental contaminants and cleanup activities on national wildlife refuges, natural resource damage assessments and restorations, oil spill response, and endangered species and habitat management. 

Our Services

The Environmental Contaminants Data Management System is managed by ACF staff. The system is a web application that is part of the Service's Environmental Conservation Online System.  The system is used to store biological, geographic, chemical analysis, and administrative data from samples collected from around the country to assess environmental pollution. It allows Service biologists and other bureaus within the Department of the Interior to store and access contaminant data on fish and wildlife and supporting habitats. Additionally, the system provides an array of tools, processes, and features that link the biologist with the administrators, quality assurance officers, and laboratories that perform the chemical analyses. 

As of November 2020, the system’s database contains sample and analytical results information for more than 114,000 samples, and is still growing. The data represents 946 different species and 1,893 different analytes. Samples have been submitted from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It also contains samples and results from more than 300 national wildlife refuges, and even a few samples and results from Mexico, Canada, and Russia. 

Contaminants Mapper 

The Contaminants Mapper is a publicly available web-based tool that allows users to download all contaminant data from wildlife and habitat generated by the ACF since 2004. The mapper allows users to easily access the Service's contaminant data by zooming into geographic places of interest. With more than 3.7 million individual measurements from more than 900 species of organisms, the contaminant database underlying the mapper is arguably the largest in the world dedicated to wildlife and contaminants.

View Contaminants Mapper tutorial

Bulk Data Download 

Where the Contaminants Mapper allows users to download sample data from specific locations. If users have targeted unique, analytes for instance, all available analytes for the sample(s) from the targeted location will also be downloaded. Using the Bulk Data Download, users will only download their analyte(s) of interest. Or on a broader scope, if a user wanted all available data for a species and analyte, where ever they may be, it is now a capability.  

View bulk data download tutorial