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Environmental Contaminants What We Do...


Rachel Carson

The Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) has been involved with studying contaminant effects on fish and wildlife since its earliest days, but the Environmental Contaminants Program really began to take form in the 1950s, when increasing awareness of pollution problems spurred the American public to demand action. In 1962, Rachel Carson, a former Service employee, captured national attention with her landmark book, Silent Spring, which outlined the widespread harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. Carson's alarming message that the effects of these substances on wildlife serve as indicators of what may ultimately jeopardize our own health struck a chord with the American public.

Today, the Service's Environmental Contaminants Program includes contaminants specialists stationed at more than 75 locations around the country. Two of these stations are in New Mexico: The New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (NMESFO) and the Southwest Regional Office, established in 1985. We specialize in detecting toxic chemicals; addressing their effects; preventing harm to fish, wildlife, and their habitats; and restoring habitat. We are skilled in addressing oil and chemical spills, pesticides, water quality, and other aspects of pollution biology. The Contaminant Program's operations are integrated into all other NMESFO activities and the Service's contaminants specialists often work in partnership with other Federal, State, Tribal, and Private agencies and organizations which have come to rely on our expertise.

This webpage was last modified on: December 21, 2005

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