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Potential impacts of modern perfluorinated chemicals on fisheries


A large group of manufactured compounds commonly known as PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) became recognized as contaminants of concern at the turn of the 21st century. Widely used in stain repellants and non-stick coatings, PFCs are toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative. National and international regulations have led to a decline in the production and release of several significant PFCs such as PFOS and PFOA. However, aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs) used in fire-fighting—and commonly associated with defence and transportation facilities including airports—remain a major source of PFCs chemicals. Newer formulations of AFFFs contain more than 40 PFCs. This research will gather new information on selected “novel” PFCs, which are not yet regulated, including bioaccumulation in Canada’s northern species and the toxicological effects of exposure on early life stages of Rainbow Trout and Arctic Char.

EightFootnote 1 of 42 known PFCs were selected for study based on their presence in Canada’s North, likely toxicity to living organisms, persistence in the environment, scale of usage in AFFFs (production volume), and low potential to decay and transform in the environment. Early life stage tests will focus on survival, growth, and rates of deformities based on egg exposure to “novel” PFCs. The study will also assess impacts on gene expression and certain aspects of biological development (e.g. development of sensory systems). In mammals, certain PFCs can bind to blood proteins, thereby increasing the toxicity. As such, this study will use ultrahigh resolution mass-spectrometry techniques to examine the potential of target PFCs to bind to proteins in blood of the two test species. The data generated will be used to assess the risks AFFFs pose in relation to past and future releases from transportation and defence facilities, which are expected to occur primarily through wastewater and storm runoff following fire-fighting or training activities.

Program Name

National Contaminants Advisory Group (NCAG)


2017 – 2020


Arctic: Western Arctic, Hudson Bay Complex

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Paul Jones
Associate Professor, Toxicology
University of Saskatchewan

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