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Dana Kolpin receives Recipharm’s International Environmental Award

Kolpin USGS

Recipharm has announced its 2019 International Environmental Award will be presented to Dana Kolpin, Research Hydrologist at the US Geological Survey Central Midwest Water Science Center in Iowa.

Dana Kolpin’s extensive expertise in source-to-receptor research includes the impact and effects of environmental contaminants which are used in today’s society such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Kolpin has been the lead on two national, multidisciplinary projects for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Toxic Substances Hydrology Program: the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Project (1998-2017) and the Food Resources Project (2018 to present). These projects are dedicated to identifying new contaminants and sources of contaminants with the ultimate goal of increasing our understanding of the environmental consequences of exposure to the plethora of chemical and microbial contaminants that are present in the environment.

A pioneering approach to exploring the potential effects and risks of contaminants

Throughout his more than 30-year career with the USGS, Kolpin has published over 220 papers and reports on environmental contaminants that have received over 16,400 citations in scientific literature. His paper “Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: A national reconnaissance” was seminal on the topic of environmental exposures to pharmaceuticals and has become the most heavily cited paper in the history of Environmental Science & Technology. In addition, his research has been highlighted in Discover and Time magazines and he has received the USGS Shoemaker Award for Communication Product Excellence and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ORD Bronze medal.

“We are delighted to present the 2019 award to Dana Kolpin. His work represents a pioneering approach to exploring the potential effects and risks of contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, on the environment. His research has been both influencial and inspirational for other scientists in this field and has without doubt been essential in building a stronger understanding of the environmental impact of various types of contaminants,” says Lars Backsell, Chairman of the Board of Recipharm.

Kolpin routinely collaborates with international colleagues to conduct research on environmental contaminants and he is one of the founding organizers of the “Emerging Contaminants” international conference series. He is now actively engaged in the U.S. Geological Survey’s newly formed Food Resources Project.

“I am very honored to receive this award and thank Recipharm for the recognition of the research that has been conducted by me and my team. It is satisfying to know that our work has inspired others to conduct environmental research on this rapidly evolving topic. Since the start of my career, science has come a long way regarding the understanding of the potential consequences from contaminant exposures, but there more to be understood, particularly when it comes to the effects of chronic exposures to complex mixtures of environmental contaminants. We need to take stock of where we are and what we have learned to better position our future research priorities in both the short and long term,” says Kolpin.

Right image: Dana Kolpin, Research Hydrologist at the US Geological Survey Central Midwest Water Science Center in Iowa. Photo:

Left image: The USGS collected water samples from 11 stream sites in the Croton Watershed (a drinking-water resource for New York City) during 2000 for the National Stream Reconnaissance for Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment Investigation. Photo Credit: Patrick J. Phillips, US Geological Survey. Public domain.