Because of difficulties related to accessibility and a harsh climate, the oceanography and ecotoxicology of Canadian ecosystems at high latitudes have yet to be studied extensively. Yet cold regions are those most directly threatened by today's global warming and climate change.
The chair directed by Émilien Pelletier will study what happens to toxic substances in a cold coastal environment, the effects of cold on contaminated organisms, and ecosystem responses to climate change.
Dr. Pelletier is one of the pioneers of marine ecotoxicology in Quebec. He and his team have achieved major scientific breakthroughs in basic and applied research. For example, they have developed a new agent for dealing with oil slicks which captures the oil, no matter what type of oil and no matter what the temperature of the water. His work also contributed to the decision to ban the use of butyltin-based anti-fouling paints on all ships, including merchant vessels, as of 2005-2007. Butyltins are highly toxic for all marine organisms, from the starfish to the beluga whale.
Dr. Pelletier used information on events such as oil spills or the flash flooding caused by the Saguenay River in July 1996 to direct major studies on the ecotoxicological risks associated with the recycling of pollutants. He is one of the most prolific marine ecotoxicology researchers in Canada, and he has gained an international reputation because of the importance of his fieldwork. His team is one of the few in the world to integrate the core disciplines of marine ecotoxicology: chemistry, biology, biochemistry and ecology.