Tag Archives: Sessions

When is Clean, Clean Enough? A Discussion of Wastewater Treatment Technologies in Relation to Aquatic Organism Health

Chairs: Meghan Fuzzen, McMaster University; Mark Servos, University of Waterloo


Wastewater effluents from municipal and industrial sources are known to contain complex mixtures of chemicals, including some that are endocrine disrupting. Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) have the potential to have severe consequences for populations of aquatic organisms, as demonstrated by the collapse of the fathead minnow population in a lake dosed with the active agent in the birth control pill (Kidd et al 2007). In addition to removal of pathogens and organic waste, treatment of effluent has been shown to remove some EDCs. Advanced treatment (secondary or tertiary processes) removes an even larger proportion of EDCs. Countries such as Switzerland are moving to implement tertiary treatment across the country. Adding additional processes to wastewater treatment plants is extremely costly and may or may not be necessary in all cases? The question posed by the chairs of this session is “When is clean, clean enough?”. This session will end with a panel discussion of this question with experts from government, utilities and academia.

Water Quality Guidelines: Policy, Bioavailability, and Case Studies

Chairs: Ali Azizshirazi, British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Joanne Little, Alberta Environment and Parks, Monica Nowierski, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Bob Santore, Windward Environmental, Uwe Schneider, Water Quality in the 21st Century, Doug Spry,Environment and Climate Change Canada, Angeline Tillmanns, British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Anne Wilson, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Water quality guidelines are indispensable environmental benchmarks for evaluating risk to water quality.  Water quality guidelines are science-based policy tools that follow detailed derivation protocols that describe the specific methodology that must be followed when developing a guideline.   The first section of this session will investigate advances in the development of guidelines including the use of alternative endpoints such as –omics and behavioral endpoints.

The second section will investigate bioavailability-based approaches for developing water quality guidelines such as the use of Biotic Ligand Models (BLMs).  These methods have gained international attention in recent years due to advantages in incorporating chemical speciation and organism physiology in order to predict the effects of modifying factors on toxicity.  Consideration of modifying factors is challenging at multiple stages in the guideline development and application and approaches for overcoming these challenges are necessary.

The third section will provide an opportunity to apply what was learned in sessions one and two to specific examples of guidelines at the national, as well as site-specific level. Examples will include specific compounds and parameters, incorporating hardness as a toxicity modifying factor, and updates on specific guidelines.  A facilitated discussion will follow the presentation of case studies to identify research needs and opportunities related to water quality guidelines.

Toxicity and Exposure of Wildlife to PAHs

Chairs: Phil Thomas and Julie Bilodeau, University of Ottawa; Shane de Solla, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Despite the reduction in the production and emissions of PAHs, these organic pollutants are still among the most relevant contaminants in terms of exposure to wildlife. PAHs are among the contaminants most frequently triggering the listing of Ares of Concern in the Great Lakes. Similarly, they are among the most toxic components of crude oil or other petroleum products, most importantly PAHs may be the group of compounds that contribute most to the toxicity of air in large urban centres, particularly genotoxicity. Surprisingly, despite decades of research on PAHs, relatively little is known on the exposure and toxicity of PAHs to wildlife, particularly their alkylated or nitrogenated analogs. Free-ranging wildlife species are exposed to PAHs and their analogs through diet, air and dermal exposure. Higher exposure may occur at contaminated sites such as Great Lakes Areas of Concern, the Oil Sands producing region, or following crude oil spills. This session will examine both exposure and toxicity of PAHs and their analogs to wildlife, especially by examining both newer techniques and novel types of questions regarding, and identifying the major gaps in the understanding of the fate, exposure, accumulation and mechanism of action these compounds may have.

Toxic Effects in Aquatic Species: Integrating Biochemical, Physiological, and Ecological Responses

Chairs: David Janz, University of Saskatchewan; Chris Kennedy, Simon Fraser University


The first step of virtually all toxicological responses is an interaction between a xenobiotic and a cellular macromolecule (i.e., DNA, protein, lipid), referred to as a molecular initiating event (MIE) in the emerging adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach. The MIE then causes one or several key events (KE; usually physiological responses at the cell, tissue, or organ level) that translate to apical responses, referred to as adverse outcomes (AO; usually organ, organism, or population level responses). The AOP approach has gained traction in ecological (and biomedical) toxicology as a framework to better quantify the risk associated with exposure to xenobiotics. In this session we invite Abstracts from aquatic toxicologists who employ a mechanistic, integrative approach to investigate such linkages between different levels of biological organisation.

Thermal Discharges – Research and Regulations

Chairs: Carolyn Brown and Paul Patrick, Ecometrix Incorporated


There are over 100 power plants and numerous industrial facilities on the shores of the Great Lakes that depend on cooling water for operations. Elevated discharge temperatures have various effects on biota. Growing concerns of the effects of thermal plumes in the environment have resulted in regulators demanding more rigorous proof of negligible effects to sensitive fish populations. This session will explore the challenges in research related to thermal plume effects on aquatic ecosystems as well as the regulations that have resulted. Presentations will cover a broad spectrum, from embryo development to negotiations with regulators on acceptable temperature limits.

Systems Biology for Ecotoxicology- From Gene to Ecosystem

Chairs: Caren Helbing, University of Victoria, Vance Trudeau, University of Ottawa

We will provide a cross-section of the OMICS approaches currently used in both model lab species and ecologically-relevant non-model species. This symposium will target those new to these Big-data approaches, as well as students and investigators currently undertaking such analyses. Organisms respond to natural or anthropogenic factors through the detection of such stimulatory or inhibitory inputs by changes in behaviours and physiology. Underlying this are the integrated responses of cells and tissues at the transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomics levels. The ability to quantify the complete response of an organism to an environmental pollutant is becoming more possible. Application for these methods in ecotoxicology is at its infancy and remains challenging but progress is being made, especially for DNA sequencing and mass spectrometry in non-model, but ecologically relevant species. In some species, these methods are well-advanced, while for others, these tools are in the early stages. These methods are beginning to increase our understanding of the comparative responsiveness of species, and of adverse outcome pathways in multiple species.

Pesticides in the Environment

Stacey Robinson and Adrienne Bartlett, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Pesticides are intentionally released into the environment to control a variety of pests. However, non-target organisms are also exposed, either directly during application or via movement of the pesticide in the environment (e.g., spray drift, leaching, run-off). We are interested in showcasing research related to the detection of pesticides in the environment and their effects on non-target wildlife. Specifically, we welcome a full gradient in experimental designs from laboratory to field assessments that investigate molecular to population effects, with an ultimate purpose to discuss the environmental consequences of pesticide exposure to non-target organisms.

New Methods and Novel Approaches for Assessing and Monitoring Environmental Contaminant Mixtures or Individual Priority Substances

Chairs: Rick Scroggins and Leana Van der Vliet, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Data from single-species effects testing using representative taxa are a valuable part of the environmental monitoring of mixed contaminant situations as hazard evaluations within chemical risk assessments (especially CMP priority substances and pesticides) in Canada and elsewhere. On a global level, the science of ecotoxicology is advancing steadily with application of standardized biological test methods, development of new techniques involving single species, community level assays, biochemical/physiological measurements and genomic tools for application in regulatory instruments. These methodologies are also utilized in the management of individual chemicals and mixed contamination at impacted sites. Traditional toxicity test methods have focused on test endpoints such as whole-organism survival, growth, behaviour and reproduction relevant to measuring effects of contaminants in specific environmental media such as water, sediment, wildlife and surface soil. However, new approaches for measuring more subtle environmental exposure or effects such endocrine system disruption, motor skill impairment, delayed organism development, immune system compromise and adverse outcomes pathways (AOP) signalling are emerging using new techniques and technologies (e.g., blood chemistry, liver & gill cell-lines, primary hepatocytes, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.). In this session, we are planning a series of presentations on new testing methodologies with non-traditional endpoints and exploring the application of novel approaches to understanding the possible effects of individual priority substances, groups of selected priority substances, and in situ contaminant mixtures in different environmental media. Case studies which highlight the application of new methods and approaches will also be a component of this session. The target audience includes risk assessors from government or private sector and scientists conducting research to develop new testing or monitoring techniques.

Mining, Environment, and Novel Environmental Effects Monitoring Approaches

Chairs: Charles Dumaresq, Mining Association of Canada, Charlene Burnett-Seidel, Cameco Corporation, Helga Sonnenberg, Ecological and Regulatory Solutions Inc., Lisa Ramilo, Ecological and Regulatory Solutions Inc., Nastassia Urien, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS)


This session will encompass a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial issues related to mining and its potential influence on the environment, and will provide some novel approaches that could be used to assess environmental effects.  Mining operations are required to monitor before, during and after mining to assess baseline conditions and the impacts, if any on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Types of monitoring required include: environmental effects monitoring (EEM) required under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER); baseline monitoring to inform environmental assessments; monitoring required under various permit conditions; non-regulated monitoring programs, including monitoring conducted under agreements with Indigenous communities; remediation and reclamation; and, academic research. Routine monitoring is useful, but can only be used to screen potential issues or elements of concern. More advanced work is needed to look at site-specific aspects of water quality, bioavailability, bioaccumulation and ultimately cause of effects or toxicity. In most cases, many of the advanced techniques are conducted by few groups and remain largely within the research realm, or are being investigated for applicability through industrial research oriented projects. The science available to conduct field and/or lab-based aquatic studies to deal with these questions is rapidly advancing. The session will end with a discussion on key topics of interest, including best practices and needed changes, to bring together practitioners, scientists and regulators to share experiences.

Is There a Problem Here? Integration of Ecotoxicology and Hazard/Risk Assessment

Chair: Jose “Pepe” Rodriguez-Gil, University of Calgary


The ultimate goal of ecotoxicological research should be to answer the basic question “Is there a problem here?”. This session invites research focused on the integration of environmental/eco-toxicological research and risk assessment (both prospective and retroactive). Research dealing with the application of new tools, or approaches (e.g. ecosystem services, trait based approaches), new scientific concepts, new demands or needs (e.g. species at risk), or new regulatory developments (e.g. endocrine disruptors and hazard based assessments) is welcome. Specific case studies showcasing this integration will be considered.