Pesticides are largely used in agricultural settings, and to a lesser extent, in urban areas. They can be transported into water bodies where they pose a risk to aquatic life. Scientists from Environment Canada’s Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance programme assess the presence of various pesticides and their levels in selected ecosystems.
This territory includes 70% of the land dedicated to the agriculture in Canada. Due to the vast expanse of cultivated land, more pesticides are used in the Prairies than in any other region in Canada. Aquatic ecosystems are therefore becoming vulnerable to pesticide contamination.
Pesticides are known to be found in streams and rivers near farms, but could they also be in urban waterways?
The National Pesticides Monitoring and Surveillance Network was established in 2003 to study, evaluate and report on pesticides and their transformation products to support Environment Canada’s freshwater ecosystem approach to watershed management.
A nation-wide study was conducted from 2003 to 2005 based on the findings of an analysis of 141 current-use pesticides, including their transformation products. In total, samples were taken from approximately 140 sites in about 15 watersheds of various sizes during this period. Here are a few highlights of the program's findings.
A number of pesticides are present in the water of the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City and at the mouths of some tributaries of Lake Saint-Pierre. This is what scientists at Environment Canada have observed since 2003.
Technical summaries and reports
This report is released under the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) initiative. It addresses the underlying methods and data for the Household Use of Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides indicator as published on the CESI website.
This report represents the culmination of Canada’s first National Water Quality Surveillance Program focused on current-use pesticides in vulnerable aquatic ecosystems and source waters. Funded by Environment Canada’s Pesticide Science Fund, the surveillance program was conducted over a period of three years from 2003 to 2005.
The present report reveals data on pesticides originating from agriculture in three major watersheds south of Lake Saint-Pierre where corn and soy are intensively grown. The watersheds studied include those of the Nicolet, Saint-François, and Yamaska rivers.
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