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Scientific Investigations Map 2937

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Occurrence of Volatile Organic Compounds in Selected Urban Streams in the United States, 19952003

By David A. Bender, Curtis V. Price, and Joshua F. Valder

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Study Basics

The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program sampled 37 urban streams throughout the United States for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from 1995 to 2003. These urban streams were selected to (1) characterize stream water quality from areas draining predominantly residential and commercial land uses and (2) determine which natural and human factors affect stream quality. Initial interpretation of the VOC data set is focused on determining which VOCs commonly are found, the range of concentrations, and the temporal distribution (Lopes and Price, 1997).

The 37 urban streams sampled had drainage areas that ranged from 23 to 13,000 square kilometers with a median of 71 square kilometers. The urban streams are located in eight major surface-water regions within the conterminous United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. The urban streams were sampled for VOCs monthly for about 1 year with some storm samples collected at selected sites (Lopes and Price, 1997). A total of 869 samples (410 samples in the warmer months and 459 samples in the cooler months) were collected and were analyzed for 85 individual VOCs. Data are available at

For more information about USGS activities in South Dakota, visit the USGS South Dakota Water Science Center home page.

For more information about USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program, visit the NAWQA Program home page or for more information about the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program Volatile Organic Compound National Syntheses, visit the VOC National Synthesis home page.

Please send questions and comments about this map to:
Chief, VOC National Synthesis
U.S. Geological Survey
1608 Mt. View Road
Rapid City, South Dakota 57702
Telephone: 605-394-3214
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