Set up a scientific knowledge exchange group on substances of emerging concern

Context and project description

The St. Lawrence has seen an assault from numerous toxic substances from municipal or industrial sources: mercury, PCBs, PAHs, etc. Several environmental programs have reduced the input of these contaminants and improved the quality of certain ecosystems, yet the river’s water and sediment remains permeated with persistent, toxic and bioaccumulable organic substances. In addition, new concerns regarding the protection of aquatic biodiversity have appeared with the proliferation, over recent decades, of complex substances such as polybromodiphenyl ethers and perfluorinated substances in manufactured products, nanoparticles, and a host of chemical compounds contained in pharmaceutical and personal care products.

However, scientists possess little information regarding the presence and synergy of these contaminants of emerging interest in the area. They also know little about the toxic effect of these products and their transfer in the food chain. This is why the St. Lawrence Action Plan created an knowledge exchange group, bringing together researchers and professionals (chemists, biologists, geologists etc.) to look into these questions. The group members must share their knowledge, review several contaminant classes, share the results of their work and define needs for research to be carried out in partnership.


A fact sheet on emerging contaminants in the St. Lawrence is currently being drafted. It will summarize the knowledge acquired and highlight potential research topics. In addition, it has been agreed that an annual meeting bringing together experts and project partners will be organized. This event will promote dialogue among scientists concerning substances of emerging concern and will improve knowledge in this regard.

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Health Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
  • Ministère de la Sécurité publique
  • Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux