Final List of 2016 CEW Scientific Program Sessions
Chairs: Kelly Munkittrick (Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance) and Mark McMaster (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Environmental Effects Monitoring first emerged as a defined program in 1991, leading up to the 1992 revisions of the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations. It first appeared as a session at the 1991 Aquatic Toxicity Workshop in Ottawa in a session entitled “Environmental effects monitoring using indigenous biota in receiving waters”, and the ATW/CEW has been a regular venue for updates on EEM as it developed. EEM changed the face of impact assessment monitoring for pulp mills and metal mines in Canada, and the approach has been utilized in a number of other countries. There are a number of spinoff benefits to the development of the guidelines for monitoring, and given the significance of a 25th anniversary, it seems appropriate to review what has happened, and where EEM is going for the future.
Chairs: Doug Spry (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Joanne Little (Alberta Environment and Parks)
Water quality guidelines or other chronic effects benchmarks form a cornerstone of environmental management and risk assessment. The CCME has been using the Species Sensitivity Distribution since 2007. While there are major advantages to this approach, including the ability for contributed guidelines, there have also been several technical and policy-related challenges in their development and application. This session will explore the challenges in developing and applying guidelines as well as site-specific chronic effects benchmarks, such as endpoint selection, use of alternate endpoints, variation and interpretation of the CCME protocol and proposed guidelines for substances.
Chairs: Sarah Hughes (Shell Health – Americas), Jonathan Naile, (Shell Health – Americas), and David Saunders (University of Saskatchewan)
In 2013 Canada used over 3 million animals for testing of which 32% were fish, and with expanding regulatory requirements this amount is expected to increase. Although animal testing is important for hazard assessment of new products and effluents, there is increasing pressure to reduce, replace and refine traditional animal testing methods wherever possible, while still meeting legal obligations and protecting the environment. The objective of this session is to provide a platform to present, discuss, and summarize alternative methods and organizational frameworks (i.e. AOPs), and to understand the issues which remain in the implementation of these alternative test methods.
Chair: William Shotyk (University of Alberta)
The first metal-free, ultraclean lab was developed to determine the age of the Earth using Pb isotope analyses of meteorites by Clair Patterson at Caltech. Since then, related technologies, procedures and protocols have been applied in chemical oceanography for the determination of trace metals in seawater, as well as in retrospective studies of atmospheric deposition of trace elements in polar snow and ice. In this session, we will explore analytical approaches and methodology for the determination of trace elements in snow, water, plants, sediments and bitumen. New insights highlighting the importance of particles and colloids in analyses will also be discussed.
Chair: Rainie Sharpe (Golder Associates)
A session relating to adaptive management and specifically, the various metrics and scenarios that scientists and statisticians are implementing to quantify natural variability in the environment. Doing this well is critical to a) properly assessing change and environmental impacts, and b) appropriately responding to change, when it occurs. Doing this well, however, is confounded by the inevitable migration into technically complicated statistical processes. The need to communicate the outcomes of these complicated analyses to stakeholders who may have preconceived feelings of distrust, especially when decisions appear based on incomprehensible (to the lay person) metrics, is a real challenge. Presentations may include topics such as: regulatory perspectives and/or examples, proponent examples and/or feedback, philosophical considerations for building trust and supporting effective adaptive management (including the incorporation of Traditional Knowledge, if possible), or different ways the concepts of natural variability are being included in various environmental monitoring scenarios.
Chairs: Erin Kelly (Government of the Northwest Territories), Bruce Hanna (Government of the Northwest Territories), and Jennifer Fresque-Baxter (Government of the Northwest Territories)
In the Northwest Territories, it is recognized that community-driven research to address community concerns is essential, with traditional knowledge and science working together toward a common goal of understanding ecosystem health. Building on and addressing community concerns ensures that community needs are addressed and that research and monitoring are relevant for decision-making at multiple levels. This joint presentation and panel session will explore, from community and research partner perspectives, opportunities and challenges for community-driven research and monitoring. Key themes will include: core community questions, related to ecosystem health, across the NWT; bridging knowledge systems for answering community questions; approaches to collaboration and engagement; and, role of community-driven research in decision-making.
Chairs: Stacey Robinson (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Vicki Marlatt (Simon Fraser University)
Pesticide contamination can be extensive in agricultural and neighboring areas. Numerous studies report that air, soils and waters across Canada are frequently contaminated with diverse mixtures of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. The consequences of single and multiple pesticide exposures on the health of non-target wildlife and the viability of natural populations are still largely unknown. This session will present recent findings on topical issues surrounding current use pesticides in Canadian ecosystems, including environmental concentrations, fate and the biological impacts of individual and mixtures of current-use pesticides on non-target organisms with an emphasis on the effects to native Canadian species.
Chair: Guy Gilron (Borealis Environmental Consulting)
Last year’s closing session of the CEW included a very interesting and challenging competition for students – the “Three-Minute Thesis” (3MT) – which the CEW Board is now considering continuing into the future. The challenge in this competition was/is for participants to present their work as effectively, concisely and interestingly as possible – in a simple format – to a diverse, but educated, audience. Even those who have made many presentations at CEW/ATW and other similar conferences for years, were impressed with the quality and appeal of these presentations: good science delivered in simple, interesting and in some cases, novel ways.
In contrasting these presentations to our traditional format of communicating our work, a higher-level question emerging was: “Are we doing the best job we can at communicating the science of ecotoxicology?” This proposed session – likely to include a number of invited speakers with experience and interest in scientific communication – will focus on how we as a discipline, communicate our science: to our colleagues, our peers, and the public. While the session will focus on effective communication of content, it is proposed that the use of new and emerging tools and technologies (e.g., interactive presentations (including videos), webinars, presentation software (e.g., Prezi), poster formatting), will also be featured and highlighted. The session is proposed as a half-day session (6-8 presentations), and may involve experts from fields other than ecotoxicology.
Chairs: Catherine Evans (Alberta Energy Regulator), Chris Teichreb (Alberta Energy Regulator), and Nikolaus Gantner (Gantner Consulting Services & University of Northern British Columbia)
Over the past few years, there have been a number of high profile releases associated with resource extraction, processing and transportation activities, and/or wastewater storage facilities. This session will review the impacts of these events, outline best practices for regulatory responses, ongoing impact monitoring, integration of ecotoxicology and risk assessment principles, and highlight gaps in knowledge and efforts to address these gaps in managing these unanticipated events. Invited will be presenters from a range of expertise; from regulatory agencies, emergency response teams, industry, to academia.
Chairs: Christopher Kennedy (Simon Fraser University) and David Janz (University of Saskatchewan)
Aquatic environments offer and sustain diverse habitats for a variety of organisms, but also attract an ever-increasing level of anthropogenic activity, often resulting in contaminant exposure and toxic effects. These effects can be examined at all levels of biological organization, from the molecular to the ecosystem level. Understanding the wide variety of effects that occur are vital for determining cause-effect relationships, understanding basic biological function, and for more applied purposes such as biomarker development and risk assessment.
Chair: Anikó Takács-Cox (Genome British Columbia)
Genomics is a science that deciphers the DNA – the code of life – in all living systems. Revealing the information programmed into the genome of plants, animals and microorganisms provides valuable insights into the diversity of all species on the planet and how species adapt, survive, thrive and respond under various conditions. The cost of applying genomics as a tool is at the price point where wide-spread applications can be envisioned for not only scientists but also for policy makers, and industry, providing exciting new opportunities for solving ecotoxicity challenges. In particular, toxicogenomics can be applied to assess complex and cumulative toxicity profiles from different microorganisms. Alternatively, organisms can be selected based on genomics profiles to provide measure of toxicants for real time, remote applications. This session will provide concrete examples of innovative ideas where molecular information encoded in genes was utilized in ecotoxicity applications.
Chairs: Navdeep Toor (Associated Environmental Consultants) and Brenda Miskimmim (Associated Environmental Consultants)
Aboriginal communities are very concerned about Aboriginal and Treaty Rights related to their constitutional right to hunt, fish, trap, and gather food. Ever expanding industry is impeding their traditional use of the land, and raising concerns about the potential contamination of water, fish, wildlife and plants. Ecotoxicological studies and risk assessments are essential to identifying and understanding how contaminants potentially impact these ecological resources. This session will explore the sources, concentrations, fate and distribution, pathways, and effects of industrial contaminants in the aquatic and terrestrial resources used by aboriginal communities.
Chair: Mandy Dumanski (Alberta Energy Regulator)
Air quality impacts from industrial development, agricultural operations, urban sprawl, and day-to-day activities can directly and indirectly affect human and environmental health. Growing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, noxious odours and decreased quality of life, deposition of contaminants of potential concern to the environment, fate and transport of continuous emission plumes, and direct health effects in humans from decreased air quality have become drivers in the management of potential adverse effects associated with development in all sectors. This session is intended to promote collaboration among researchers, regulators, sector operators, and consultants. Presentations will cover a broad spectrum from; recent advances in inhalation toxicology research, regulatory considerations and legislation governing the control of air emissions (including GHGs), case studies of direct and indirect health effects to ecological and human receptors, and best practices for odour management.
Chairs: David Huebert (AECOM) and Rick Walbourne (Government of the Northwest Territories)
In order to ensure that resource development proceeds in an environmental sustainable manner, regulators responsible for environmental assessment and permitting of projects are expected to make decisions based on the best available scientific and technological information and in the best interests of the public. To remain effective, regulatory agencies must continually adapt their processes to account for constantly changing social and economic conditions, as well as advances in science and technology; learning about best practices from other jurisdictions can be very valuable in this regard. This session is meant to bring together regulators, government, industry, academic researchers and professional consultants to: 1) share innovative approaches or best practices on any processes or products (i.e., guidelines, regulations, policies etc.) related to the regulation of a resource development project; and 2) discuss how to better integrate advances in science and technology into regulatory decision making (panel discussion).
Chairs: Patrick Gauthier (University of Calgary), Bastien Sadoul (University of Calgary), and Jith Thomas (University of Calgary)
Municipal wastewater effluents contain a complex mixture of metals, hydrocarbons, and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). Many of these contaminants act as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) to aquatic organism and elicit a diverse array of toxicology consequences to aquatic life, including but not limited to, long-term behavioural changes that adversely affect survival and fecundity. Behaviour, as a toxicological endpoint, translates complex molecular and physiological processes into ecological relevant outcomes with clear ramifications on aquatic ecosystem health. As such, the use of behaviour as a biomarker of exposure and ecological risk has promise to improve water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic ecosystem health. Yet, at present there remains a large gap in knowledge surrounding the effects of wastewater exposure on the behaviour of aquatic biota. Several barriers to filling in this gap include a paucity of information regarding molecular and physiological mechanisms of behavioural toxicity, as well as a poor understanding of mixture toxicity. This session will host research that adds to our understanding of the links among molecular, physiological, and behavioural endpoints of EDC toxicity.
Chairs: Charles Dumaresq (Mining Association of Canada) and David Hamilton (EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc.)
Mines and the adjacent ecosystems are the focus of a wide range of chemical and biological monitoring as well as toxicity testing. This includes regulated requirements, such as: environmental effects monitoring (EEM) required under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations; baseline monitoring to inform environmental assessments; monitoring required under various permit conditions; non-regulated monitoring programs, including monitoring conducted under agreements with Indigenous communities; and, academic research. Building on sessions on mining during past Workshops (CEW and ATW), this session will include a focus on mining and the aquatic environment. Presentations will cover a range of topics, including results of monitoring studies, interpretation of monitoring results, and new developments in toxicity testing and environmental monitoring.
Since monitoring related to mining does not stop at the water’s edge, and the scope of CEW now includes terrestrial as well as aquatic environments, the session will also include presentations on monitoring in the terrestrial environment. This could include a range of topics, from bats in closed mines, to caribou and other large mammals, to studies of metals uptake in vegetation. The session will also provide an opportunity to learn more about new, emerging or innovative monitoring methods for aquatic and terrestrial environments of relevance to mining. In addition, the session will provide an opportunity to explore the interface between environmental monitoring and traditional knowledge in the context of mining.
Chairs: Rick Scroggins (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Pamela Martin (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Data from single-species effects testing using representative taxa are an accepted part of the environmental monitoring and risk assessment of chemicals (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 methods, development of new techniques involving single species and community level assays and regulatory implementation of these methodologies in risk assessment and management of 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 different 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 priority substance, substance groupings and contaminant mixtures in different environmental media. Case studies which highlight the application of new methods and approaches will be component of this session.
Chairs: Keith Tierney (University of Alberta), Danielle Philibert (University of Alberta), and Greg Pyle (University of Lethbridge)
Sublethal toxicity testing and sensitive whole organism endpoints, like behaviour and neuromotor function, are of emerging importance in the development of environmental regulatory framework and risk assessment. Behavioural responses are mediated through the integration of neural, neuroendocrine and neuromuscular signals, contributing to complex and highly variable inter-individual responses in exposed organisms. There are overarching themes in the field of animal behaviour that can be universally applied across toxicological agents, model organisms, organism life stage and endpoints. The objective of this session is to showcase experimental design concepts and data collection methods that could be used to introduce, improve and expand on the study of behavior in the context of ecotoxicology and its application to environmental protection and regulation.
Chairs: Greg Goss (University of Alberta), Henry He (University of Alberta) and Tamzin Blewett (University of Alberta)
Hydraulic fracturing has emerged as one of the “hot-button” environmental issues of the day with numerous jurisdictions in Canada struggling to understand the potential issues with groundwater, surface water and aerial contamination associated with this burgeoning and lucrative means of oil and gas extraction from tight shale formations. With over 15,000 wells currently “fracked” in Western Canada and potential shale reserves located throughout the country, this burgeoning practice has transformed the oil and gas industry. However, significant opposition to the practice has occurred, mostly surrounding the use of large volumes of water and chemicals to stimulate the wells to produce. This session is designed to bring together scientists and policy makers who understand the various issues unique to hydraulic fracturing including the potential effects of the chemical mixtures when flaring, the disclosure of HF chemicals used to stimulate the well, the downhole chemistry for HF, underground contamination issues and the chemistry and toxicology of flowback and produced water on native organisms.
Chairs: Judit Smits (University of Calgary) and Louise Champoux (Environment and Climate Change Canada)
This session is designed to consider the down-stream impacts of contaminant exposure or challenges on wildlife populations. This is fundamentally important from both western science and traditional ecological knowledge perspectives. In fact, many common bioindicator species are not only valuable for informing ecosystem health/sustainability status, but are also important to traditional land users who rely on healthy wildlife populations for sustenance, as a source of income, or for traditional/cultural practices. Specifically, our session will explore contaminant related impacts on wildlife in both an aquatic and terrestrial setting and at various trophic levels. We encourage session participants to consider both western science and traditional knowledge camps. We invite investigations that explore the costs and benefits associated with living in areas influenced by downstream industrial impacts. From molecular and biochemical responses, to population and community level effects will be considered. In many cases, environmental regulations do not distinguish between monitoring exposure to contaminants and resultant biological effects. The intent of this session is to examine exposure to pollutants, and linkages with biological or population level effects and how this knowledge can inform current and future monitoring programs and regulation. We envision considering plant, avian and mammalian models, from lower trophic biota to top trophic predators.