Press tip: invisible crisis

Senior Scientist, Healthy Waters Program Director

(250) 217 3755

Dr. Peter S. Ross is an internationally recognized ocean pollution expert, having published over 160 scientific articles and book chapters on pollutants of concern in the oceans, and impacts on fish, seals and whales.

Climate change and water contaminants

Climate change contributes to water contaminants in coastal BC waters in many ways.

Since no single agency is responsible for the pollution of water in all its forms, there is an urgent need for a more comprehensive approach to monitoring water pollution in British Columbia – one that seamlessly captures water along its journey from headwaters to homes, street runoff to rivers, and rivers to the ocean. And one that helps to identify solution-oriented priorities for all of us.

A history of incidents in BC underscores the serious threat posed by pollution: 

  • The derailment of nine Canadian National railcars in 2005, resulting in the release of 40,000 L of caustic soda into the Cheakamus River and the deaths of 500,000 salmon and trout.
  • Tire particles, tire-associated chemicals (6-PPD Quinone) and pesticides are entering urban fish habitat and killing salmon.
  • Killer whales in BC’s coastal waters are the most PCB-contaminated marine mammals in the world, highlighting the vulnerability of this salmon-eating predator to the legacy of industrial chemicals.
  • Drinking water is at risk from pathogens, lead (Pb) and disinfection byproducts, with Drinking Water Advisories in place for many communities and Indigenous Nations.

Dr. Ross calls it ‘British Columbia’s Invisible Crisis’, with the contamination of water in all its forms threatening the health of people and wildlife.