View all contaminants

PCDD/Fs

Sediment

PCDD/Fs (ngTEQfish/kg dry weight)

Mussels

PCDD/Fs (ngTEQmamm/kg wet weight)
North
0.403004 ngTEQfish/kg
0.403004 ngTEQfish/kg
Metlakatla
0.0195248 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0195248 ngTEQmamm/kg
8.08399 ngTEQfish/kg
8.08399 ngTEQfish/kg
Prince Rupert
0.177494 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.177494 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.011625 ngTEQfish/kg
0.011625 ngTEQfish/kg
Wiah Point
0.0007121 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0007121 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0405152 ngTEQfish/kg
0.0405152 ngTEQfish/kg
Armentieres Channel
0.0008108 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0008108 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.337758 ngTEQfish/kg
0.337758 ngTEQfish/kg
Bischof Islands
0.0107433 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0107433 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.248023 ngTEQfish/kg
0.248023 ngTEQfish/kg
Haswell Bay
0.0009641 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0009641 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.146332 ngTEQfish/kg
0.146332 ngTEQfish/kg
Louscoone Inlet
0.0010635 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0010635 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0356158 ngTEQfish/kg
0.0356158 ngTEQfish/kg
Bella Bella
0.0071254 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0071254 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.806492 ngTEQfish/kg
0.806492 ngTEQfish/kg
Port Neville
0.089522 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.089522 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.185851 ngTEQfish/kg
0.185851 ngTEQfish/kg
Sechelt
Not sampled
2.50122 ngTEQfish/kg
2.50122 ngTEQfish/kg
Strait of Georgia 1
Not sampled
4.77298 ngTEQfish/kg
4.77298 ngTEQfish/kg
Strait of Georgia 2
Not sampled
1.24427 ngTEQfish/kg
1.24427 ngTEQfish/kg
Howe Sound 1
Not sampled
0.399352 ngTEQfish/kg
0.399352 ngTEQfish/kg
Howe Sound 2
0.0225245 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0225245 ngTEQmamm/kg
Not analyzed
Howe Sound 3
4.25625 ngTEQmamm/kg
4.25625 ngTEQmamm/kg
1.02218 ngTEQfish/kg
1.02218 ngTEQfish/kg
Indian Arm 1
0.241697 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.241697 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.926817 ngTEQfish/kg
0.926817 ngTEQfish/kg
Indian Arm 2
0.003362 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.003362 ngTEQmamm/kg
10.2297 ngTEQfish/kg
10.2297 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 1
0.309612 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.309612 ngTEQmamm/kg
3.83729 ngTEQfish/kg
3.83729 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 2
Not sampled
1.69127 ngTEQfish/kg
1.69127 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 3
0.257265 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.257265 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.696519 ngTEQfish/kg
0.696519 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 4
Not analyzed
4.86464 ngTEQfish/kg
4.86464 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 5
Not sampled
2.1215 ngTEQfish/kg
2.1215 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 6
0.22938 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.22938 ngTEQmamm/kg
3.69894 ngTEQfish/kg
3.69894 ngTEQfish/kg
Burrard Inlet 7
Not sampled
Not analyzed
Burrard Inlet 8
0.01326 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.01326 ngTEQmamm/kg
Not sampled
Burrard Inlet 9
5.04909 ngTEQmamm/kg
5.04909 ngTEQmamm/kg
Not analyzed
Burrard Inlet 10
0.0079571 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0079571 ngTEQmamm/kg
Not analyzed
Burrard Inlet 11
Not sampled
Not analyzed
Burrard Inlet 12
Not sampled
Not analyzed
Burrard Inlet 13
Not sampled
Not analyzed
Burrard Inlet 14
Not sampled
Not sampled
Burrard Inlet 15
0.0362196 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0362196 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.176466 ngTEQfish/kg
0.176466 ngTEQfish/kg
Fraser River 1
0.012316 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.012316 ngTEQmamm/kg
Not analyzed
Fraser River 2
Not sampled
Not analyzed
Fraser River 3
Not sampled
0.778127 ngTEQfish/kg
0.778127 ngTEQfish/kg
Fraser River 4
Not sampled
1.03524 ngTEQfish/kg
1.03524 ngTEQfish/kg
Fraser River 5
Not sampled
Not sampled
Fraser River 6
2.32535 ngTEQmamm/kg
2.32535 ngTEQmamm/kg
Not sampled
Fraser River 7
0.0563917 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0563917 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.716287 ngTEQfish/kg
0.716287 ngTEQfish/kg
Tsawwassen
Not sampled
0.0602242 ngTEQfish/kg
0.0602242 ngTEQfish/kg
Lemmens inlet
Not sampled
0.0970748 ngTEQfish/kg
0.0970748 ngTEQfish/kg
Grice Bay
Not sampled
1.03012 ngTEQfish/kg
1.03012 ngTEQfish/kg
Dixon Island
0.487033 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.487033 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.501738 ngTEQfish/kg
0.501738 ngTEQfish/kg
Saturna Island
0.0329427 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.0329427 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.690294 ngTEQfish/kg
0.690294 ngTEQfish/kg
Fulford Harbour 1
Not analyzed
0.517763 ngTEQfish/kg
0.517763 ngTEQfish/kg
Fulford Harbour 2
Not analyzed
0.432125 ngTEQfish/kg
0.432125 ngTEQfish/kg
Patricia Bay
Not analyzed
0.582833 ngTEQfish/kg
0.582833 ngTEQfish/kg
Finnerty Cove 1
Not analyzed
0.275349 ngTEQfish/kg
0.275349 ngTEQfish/kg
Finnerty Cove 2
Not sampled
53.9427 ngTEQfish/kg
53.9427 ngTEQfish/kg
Victoria Harbour 1
Not sampled
16.1285 ngTEQfish/kg
16.1285 ngTEQfish/kg
Victoria Harbour 2
1.94035 ngTEQmamm/kg
1.94035 ngTEQmamm/kg
32.4153 ngTEQfish/kg
32.4153 ngTEQfish/kg
Victoria Harbour 3
Not sampled
17.06 ngTEQfish/kg
17.06 ngTEQfish/kg
Victoria Harbour 4
1.07457 ngTEQmamm/kg
1.07457 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.557407 ngTEQfish/kg
0.557407 ngTEQfish/kg
Albert Head 1
0.011913 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.011913 ngTEQmamm/kg
0.540644 ngTEQfish/kg
0.540644 ngTEQfish/kg
Albert Head 2
Not sampled
South

What are they?

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs or dioxins) and polychorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs or furans) are produced unintentionally as by-products of industrial processes such as the combustion of waste products and the manufacture of pesticides and other chlorinated substances. They are also emitted from vehicles, the burning of salt-laden wood in coastal pulp and paper boilers, and in wood treatment.

How do they get into the ocean?

In British Columbia (BC), pulp and paper mills historically released large amounts of dioxins and furans into the marine environment.  Wood treatment by chlorophenol-based chemicals was also a major source of dioxins and furans to the marine environment; however, the use of these products has declined.

A current source of dioxins and furans to the BC environment is the burning of salt-laden wood at pulp and paper plants. The salt in the wood contains chlorine, which, when burned, can result in the production of dioxins and furans.

FACT: PCDDs and PCDFs are highly toxic compounds that were formed inadvertently as by-products of the bleaching process at pulp and paper mills. New regulations in 1989 in Canada led to a 95% reduction in the release of these compounds in coastal BC.2

Are they a problem?

Dioxins and furans are part of a group of pollutants known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.  Of the 75 different dioxins and 135 furans, seven dioxins and ten furans are considered to be of particular concern.1

Dioxins and furans have been associated with a number of adverse effects in humans, including immune and enzyme disorders, effects on reproductive function, and cancer.1,3 They are also persistent in the environment and can bioaccumulate in tissues.3,4 Diet is the primary exposure route in humans.4

Studies in salmon have shown that the use of lipid reserves during migration results in increasing concentrations of dioxins and furans in tissues.5,6 Dioxin and furan concentrations measured in the eggs of migrating salmon were high enough to cause egg mortality5,6, and the authors suggested that dioxin/furan levels in salmon may have contributed to the decline of some salmon stocks.

Mammals exposed to TCDD, a highly toxic PCDD, can experience increased mortality, reduced growth, reproductive impairment, fetal abnormalities, immune system suppression, and cancer.7

What is being done?

In 1989, federal regulations were introduced that restricted the use of elemental liquid chlorine in pulp and paper mills, reducing overall inputs of PCDDs by over 90%.2,7 For example, loadings of the most toxic PCDD (TCDD) have decreased by over 98% since 1992.7 As a result, pulp and paper mill effluent is no longer considered a major source of PCDDs to the marine environment.

Canada-wide standards have been developed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) for pulp and paper plants burning salt-laden wood, and wood treatment facilities face much more stringent pollution control measures.  These steps have resulted in decreases in dioxin releases.7 PCDDs are slated for virtual elimination under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Federal Toxic Substances Management Policy, and the CCME Policy for the Management of Toxic Substances.

Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines protective of marine aquatic life are available for PCDDs, and these guidelines have been adopted in British Columbia.

Globally, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants requires countries to reduce emissions of dioxins and dioxin-like substances.

Dioxin/furan levels decreased in the British Columbia marine environment following the implementation of federal pulp & paper mill regulations8

What can you do?

As individuals and organizations we can:

  • Learn more about PCDD/Fs and other contaminants of concern using the resource links below
  • Recycle and dispose of waste responsibly
  • From Health Canada9:
    • Don’t burn garbage, especially construction materials that might contain wood preservatives or plastic
    • Follow provincial/territorial government advisories about eating certain types of fish and seafoods

More Information?

1 Srogi, K. 2008. Levels and congener distributions of PCDDs, PCDFs and dioxin-like PCBs in  environmental and human samples: a review. Environmental Chemistry Letters 6: 1-28.

2 Hagen ME, Colodey AG, Knapp WD, Samis CS. 1997. Environmental response to decreased dioxin and furan loadings from British Columbia coastal pulp mills. Chemosphere 34 (5-7):  1221-1229.

3 WHO 2010. Exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like substances: A major public health concern. World Health Organization. Geneva, Switzerland. 6 p.

4 Domingo JL, Bocio A. 2007. Levels of PCDD/PCDFs and PCBs in edible marine species and human intake: A literature review. Environment International 33: 397-405.

5 Kelly BC, Gray SL, Ikonomou MG, MacDonald JS, Bandiera SM, Hrycay EG. 2007. Lipid reserve dynamics and magnification of persistent organic pollutants in spawning sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) from the Fraser River, British Columbia. Environmental Science and Technology 41: 3083-3089.

6 DeBruyn AMH, Ikonomou MG, Gobas FAPC. 2004. Magnification and toxicity of PCBs, PCDDs, and PCDFs in upriver-migrating Pacific salmon. Environmental Science and Technology 38: 6217-6224.

Garrett C and Ross PS. 2010. Recovering resident killer whales: A guide to contaminant sources, mitigation, and regulations in British Columbia. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2894: xiii + 224 p.

BC Ministry of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, and Environment Canada. 2006. Alive and Inseparable: British Columbia’s Coastal Environment. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Available at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/research-monitoring-and-reporting/reporting/envreportbc/archived-reports/bcce06/bcce_report.pdf

Health Canada. 2001. It’s Your Health. Dioxins and Furans.

Click here to close this map