Wildlife and landscape science research topics: biological test method development

Article Title

Biological Test Method Development

Photo of Biological Test Methods | Photo: Environment Canada
Method development experts work with an extensive network of partners to collaboratively develop, validate, standardize and improve biological testing methods required for Environment Canada programs.

Standardized test methods are used by federal, provincial and municipal government organizations and the mining, pulp and paper, petroleum industries, and most recently, wastewater systems and sewage treatment facilities to assess the impacts of contaminants on plant, vertebrate and invertebrate species, and on terrestrial and aquatic environments.

These tests help scientists assess the risks to Canadians and the environment posed by pollutants or other dangerous substances. In addition, the tests help ensure compliance with federal legislation including the Fisheries Act, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Research in biological test method formulation focuses on:

  • forecasting the need for new environmental toxicology testing methods
  • developing and validating standardized biological test methods and supporting guidance required by departmental programs
  • developing single-species and microbial functional assays for the assessment of the impact of contaminants on natural soil systems
  • being a partner to Departmental regulatory and policy processes by ensuring the availability and appropriate advice on the use of biological test methods
  • and providing ongoing support to the toxicology component of the national laboratory accreditation program managed by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation

Since 1990, 21 standardized toxicity test methods, one procedure and seven supporting guidance documents have been published and distributed to a national and international audience for use in environmental toxicity laboratories. Depending on the method chosen, and the environmental compartment of concern, substances or materials to be tested for toxicity could include samples of chemicals or chemical products, effluents, sediments or soils, or similar particulate materials.

Photo of exposure vessels for a fish acute toxicity test | Photo: Environment Canada

The cooperative approach used during test method development has led to a high degree of national consistency in application. Science users that benefit from these standardized tests include Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Mining Association of Canada, Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada, Terra Choice Eco Logo program, Saskatchewan Research Council, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Alberta Environment.

Method development experts also support the laboratory accreditation program managed by the Standards Council of Canada and the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation and participate in international method development initiatives, such as those under the auspices of International Organization for Standardization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Photo of exposure vessels for a sediment toxicity test | Photo: Environment Canada

Experts in biological test method development

Further reading

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: