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US: Anatomy of a global environmental issue that could have affected everyone

You may not know his name, but you and every living thing on the planet have been affected by his work – in a good way.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the research of world-leading ecotoxicologist Dr. John Giesy, in collaboration with scientists at 3M-company and the US EPA, assessed the risks posed by a class of chemicals widely used in home applications. Found in water and stain repellants for clothes and furniture, and used for many industrial purposes, the chemical was considered low risk, and was used around the world.

Not only did he find that the chemical was everywhere in the environment – Dr. Giesy uncovered that early impressions of the chemical being unavailable and non-toxic were wrong, and that its continued use was a possible threat to the health and wellbeing of wildlife and people. His pioneering work on the distribution and toxicity of the chemical ultimately led to it being listed in the Stockholm Convention – the international treaty that regulates persistent organic pollutants. A total of 87 chemicals in this class have been banned in Canada.

Dr. Giesy’s work has had a significant global impact. His research contributed to a potentially toxic chemical being banned from use, and helped avert possible widespread effects. In addition to the science, his story is also one of sociology, economics and ultimately policy. And this October, he will dissect the anatomy of an environmental issue that went undetected for years without anyone hardly knowing anything about it.

On Oct. 21 and 22, Dr. Giesy will be giving public talks at Trinity Western University (TWU) and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), respectively. Both events are part of The Royal Society of Canada’s Romanowski Lecture Series, which aims to inform Canadians of recent advances in research and technology in environmental sciences.

Dr. Giesy is one of Canada’s most distinguished academics, and currently a Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan. He is the most cited author in the combined fields of ecology and environmental sciences in the world, having published 979 peer-reviewed works, and presented over 1,520 lectures around the world.

He is the most recent recipient of the RSC Miroslaw Romanowski Medal, given annually by The Royal Society of Canada to a distinguished researcher who has made significant contributions to the scientific resolution of environmental problems, or improvements to all aspects of an ecosystem via scientific means. For more information on the Romanowski Lecture Series, visit:

Trinity Western University event
When: Tuesday, October 21, 7 p.m.
Where: Northwest auditorium, TWU, 7600 Glover Road, Langley
Info: The event is free and open to the public

Kwantlen Polytechnix University event
When: Wednesday, October 22, 7:30 p.m.
Where: KPU Langley auditorium, 20901 Langley Bypass
Info: The event is free and open to the public, but registration is recommended. Visit:
Contact: Triona King, 604.599.2048 or

For more information:
Hayley Woodin, Media Specialist, KPU
T: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

Trinity Western University:
Jennifer Watton
T: 604.513.2121 (3341)
Publication date: