Laboratories and research support: laboratory services

Article Title

Laboratory Services

Scientist measuring
Laboratory Services provide advice and support to wildlife and landscape scientists.

Current expertise includes the analysis of biological material - mainly avian tissues - for residues of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), emerging organic contaminants, trace metals, and biomarker measurements as indicators of environmental contamination and early warnings of potential health issues.

The laboratories are accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) to the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard and regularly participate in inter-laboratory studies, including the Ontario Ministry of the Environment inter-laboratory study for the Northern Contaminants Program.

Current Research and Methodology

Sample Preparation and Specimen Banking

  • Laboratory technician measuring eggs for sample collection
    reception of tissues from approximately 3,000 specimens per year
  • division of organs to sub-samples and subsequent cataloguing and storage
  • homogenization of samples
  • preparation of pooled samples
  • morphometric measurements 
  • eggshell thickness determination
  • preparation of in-house reference materials (e.g., duck muscle and herring gull and double-crested cormorant egg homogenates) used for quality assurance and quality control of trace chemical analysis
  • weighing and encapsulation of samples for stable isotope analysis
  • management of the National Wildlife Specimen Bank

Analytical Services

  • Laboratory technician | Photo: Adbe Idrissi, Environment Canada
    trace metals analysis -  mercury and organic mercury by Advanced Mercury Analyzer (AMA 254), (Altec) and Direct Mercury Analyzer (DMA-80) (Milestone)
  • multiple elements - metals and lead isotopes by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP/MS), metals by flame and graphite Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (FAAS) and (GFAAS).
  • ultra trace analysis of persistent organic pollutants and emerging compounds - chlorinated pesticides, organic contaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
  • fatty acids profile
  • biochemical biomarkers including:
    • reproductive endocrinology - testosterone, estradiol
    • thyroid function - TT3, TT4, FT3 and FT4
    • enzymatic activity measurements - cholinesterase, ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD)
    • vitamin A  
  • pesticides - herbicides, rodenticides, etc.

 Advice to Customers and Academia

  • Shipment of egg samples
    specimen sampling, preservation, storage, and shipping procedures
  • analytical techniques (may include training sessions)
  • data interpretation
  • import and export transportation regulations for wildlife specimens
  • capabilities of private sector laboratories: assessment of data on in-house reference material and on certified reference material (CRM) for OC/PCBs and dioxins analysis
  • method development and adaptation 


  • Image of equipment
    Agilent 1200- API 5000™ HPLC - triple quadruple mass spectrometer (Applied Bio Systems)
  • Cytofluor 2300 fluorescence plate reader (Millipore)
  • Agilent 8453 UV-Vis spectrophotometer
  • HPLC Water Alliance 2795 with photodiode array (PDA) detector Waters 2996 and fluorescence detector Perkin Elmer LC 240
  • Cobra II (Packard) gamma counter
  • ELAN® 9000 ICP-MS (Perkin Elmer)
  • AMA 254 advanced mercury analyzer (Altec)
  • DMA-80 direct mercury analyzer (Milestone)
  • AAnalyst™ 800 atomic absorption spectrophotometer with a flame burner and with an HGA 500 graphite furnace (Perkin Elmer)
  • Three Agilent 6890 gas chromatographs with HP 5973N mass selective detector or flame ionization detector (FID G1531-60640)
  • Two FreeZone 6 Litre Console Freeze Dry Systems (Labconco)
  • Retsch® Mixer Mill MM 301 (Retsch) - Used for cryogenic homogenization of tissues

Experts in Laboratory

  • Adbe Idrissi
  • Guy Savard
  • Lisa Hermsen
  • Christine McClelland
  • François Cyr
  • Peggy Dunlop
  • France Maisonneuve
  • Robyn Lima
  • Ewa Neugebauer
  • Jeannette Corriveau
  • Ghislaine SansCartier (quality assurance)

Further Reading

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