Water monitoring pilot program

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Overview

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), began a two-year pilot water monitoring program in the spring of 2022.

The main goals of the program are to:

Water monitoring sites

Water samples are being collected for the pilot program from surface water sites, including rivers, streams, wetlands, and lakes across Canada. In Year 2, some groundwater samples from wells are also being collected. These samples are being collected by ECCC, AAFC and additional local partners. Some sites are located on Indigenous traditional territory with collection of samples by members of Indigenous communities.

Samples are collected twice per week during the growing season at most sites, and less frequently at others. Samples during the winter months are collected at select locations.

The selection of sampling site locations was based on the following considerations:

In 2022-2023, water samples were collected from 89 surface water sites (See Figure 1 map below). Note that samples from three sites were not analyzed due to quality control issues and, therefore, Year 1 data are available for a total of 86 sites.

For 2023-2024, the PMRA is adding surface water and groundwater sampling locations by working with existing and additional partners. There are 84 confirmed surface water sites and four confirmed groundwater sites for Year 2 (see Figure 2 map below). We anticipate some additional groundwater and surface water sites will continue to be added in Year 2.

Figure 1: Water Monitoring Pilot Program for Pesticides, Year 1 Sites (2022-2023)
Figure 1. Text version below.
Figure 1 - Text description

Map, titled "Water Monitoring Pilot Program for Pesticides, Year 1 Sites (2022-2023)." The map was last updated on May 19, 2023.

This is a map of Canada showing the major drainage basins, distinguished by different background colours. Provincial and federal boundaries are drawn.

There are dots on the map indicating the locations of the sites that were sampled in Year 1 of the pilot program. The dots may be one of two colours, corresponding to the sampling partner. Most of the dots are red, indicating Environment and Climate Change Canada as partner. There is one red dot in British Columbia, five red dots along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, 38 red dots in Saskatchewan, five red dots along the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, and one red dot in Manitoba. In Ontario there are red dots at five tributaries to the Great Lakes, four within Lake Erie, five within Lake Ontario, one downstream of Lake Ontario in the St Lawrence River and three red dots near Ottawa. In Quebec, there are three red dots along the St Lawrence River, and in Atlantic Canada there are four red dots in Nova Scotia and three red dots in Prince Edward Island.

A smaller number of dots are yellow, indicating Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as partner. There are two yellow dots in southwestern Ontario, seven yellow dots in eastern Ontario and two yellow dots in Quebec, near the Ontario border.

Figure 2: Water Monitoring Pilot Program for Pesticides, Year 2 (2023-2024)
Figure 2. Text version below.
Figure 2 - Text description

Map, titled "Water Monitoring Pilot Program for Pesticides, Year 2 (2023-2024)." The map was last updated on May 30, 2023.

This is a map of Canada showing the major drainage basins, distinguished by different background colours. Provincial and federal boundaries are drawn.

There are dots on the map indicating the locations of the sites that are confirmed for Year 2 of the pilot program. The dots may be one of six different colours, corresponding to the sampling partner.

Most of the dots are red, indicating Environment and Climate Change Canada as partner. There are 17 red dots in British Columbia, five red dots along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, 13 red dots in Saskatchewan, five red dots along the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border and four red dots in Manitoba. In Ontario there are red dots at six tributaries to the Great Lakes. In Quebec, there are two red dots along the St Lawrence River and two red dots in tributaries to the St Lawrence River. In Atlantic Canada there are four red dots in Nova Scotia.

Eight dots are yellow, indicating Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as partner. There are four yellow dots in southern Manitoba and four yellow dots in eastern Ontario.

Six dots are blue, indicating Essex Region Conservation Authority as partner. All six dots are located in southwestern Ontario near Lake Erie.

There are four white dots in New Brunswick, indicating the Government of New Brunswick as partner.

Ten dots in Prince Edward Island are orange, indicating the Government of Prince Edward Island as partner. An inset in the bottom right corner of the map shows a close-up of Prince Edward Island with six black dots indicating the location of surface water sites and four black triangles indicating the location of groundwater sites.

Two black dots in Newfoundland indicate the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as partner.

Laboratory analysis

A liquid chromatography (LC) method developed at Health Canada's Regulatory Operations and Enforcement Branch Pesticide Laboratory in Ottawa in 2021-2022 provides analysis of 185 current-use pesticides and two transformation products.

In developing the analytical methods, Health Canada considered all pesticides that are currently registered for outdoor use in Canada. The LC method can measure approximately 75% of these pesticides. Additional current-use pesticides and transformation products may be added in the future as additional methods are developed.

Year 1 (2022-2023)

Approximately 1300 samples were analyzed by Health Canada's Pesticide Laboratory. A subset of 195 samples collected in Ontario and Quebec were also analyzed at the University of Guelph's Agriculture & Food Laboratory for an additional five current-use pesticides plus six transformation products.

Year 1 data are available for a total of 190 pesticides and 8 transformation products. The full list of pesticides can be found on the Government of Canada Open Data portal.

Year 2 (2023-2024)

Samples will continue to be analyzed at Health Canada's Pesticide Laboratory and a subset will also be analyzed at the University of Guelph. Additional laboratory capacity will be provided by the AAFC London Research and Development Centre. The AAFC method will provide results for a majority of the compounds analyzed by Health Canada's Pesticide Laboratory.

Explore these data

Year 1 results of the pilot program are available to the public through the Government of Canada Open Data portal. At this link, the public can find:

Our Water monitoring for pesticides dashboard provides:

Data summary as of July 10, 2023

Nearly 1300 samples were analyzed in year 1 which included samples collected for field quality assurance purposes (i.e., replicates and field blanks). The results for a small number of samples were flagged by the laboratory for other quality control reasons. The results of quality assurance and flagged samples are not published to Open Data.

Data for Year 1 are now available online and consist of 1205 samples collected from 86 sites [Open Data portal] located in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

In total, 99 current-use pesticides and 5 transformation products were detected across the 1205 samples reported.

Human health

An initial review of the data received to date suggests that there are no concerns for human health at this time. Although pesticides were detected, the concentrations found are all below PMRA's Human Health Reference Values.

Aquatic life

During an initial review of these data, the PMRA identified the following areas for follow-up:

PMRA will closely review these data to identify any possible risks and what might be needed to reduce risks to aquatic life.

Partners

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