Science Advisory Report 2017/053
A Framework for the Development of Standard Methods to Evaluate the Toxicity of Petroleum Hydrocarbons on Aquatic Organisms
- This Science Advisory Report (SAR) provides a proposed framework on standard methods to evaluate the toxicity of petroleum on aquatic organisms to produce more comparable results, improve the consistency between studies, and collect more relevant data.
- There is increasing oil and gas resource development and transportation of petroleum products in Canada. This increases the potential for aquatic contamination in more diverse receiving environments. Therefore, there is a requirement for oil toxicity testing to support decision-making and spill preparedness and response.
- Guidance document for preparing test media to assess oil toxicity in sea water (Chemical Response to Oil Spill Ecological Research Forum methods, referred to as CROSERF) exists but has not been updated since 2005. It was not developed for heavy oils or use in freshwater.
- A literature review identified a diversity of toxicity test methods, a lack of detailed reporting of methods, and an inconsistent use of terminology to describe test solutions, all of which hindered comparisons of toxicity among oils, fish species, and environmental conditions.
- CROSERF was often modified to suit specific study objectives without providing sufficient details and rationales for the changes reported. CROSERF recommendations were considered inappropriate for specific research questions or environmental scenarios.
- The proposed framework improves guidance on experimental designs, physical and chemical characterization of test oils, and preparation of physically- and chemically-dispersed oil, characterizing test solutions, toxicity testing and reporting requirements. This will improve transferability, reproducibility and comparability of toxicology data generated by multiple practitioners with diverse expertise.
- Five (5) priority research needs have been identified to further refine the proposed framework.
- The results of this effort will improve comparability and quality of the data to support decision-making related to potential impacts and mitigation of oil spills on aquatic environments.
- This framework will be strengthened by the review of a broader audience including all stakeholders involved in order to reach consensus for global standard.
This Science Advisory Report summarizes the proceedings of a workshop titled Towards the Development of Toxicity Standard Methods to Evaluate Biological Effects of Heavy Oils on Aquatic Ecosystems. The workshop was held in Ottawa, Ontario, January 31 to February 2, 2017, as part of the National Science Advisory Process. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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