River metals linked to tar sand extraction

Researchers find that pollutants in Canada’s Athabasca River are not from natural sources.

Oil-mining operations in Canada’s main tar sands region are releasing a range of heavy and toxic metals — including mercury, arsenic and lead — into a nearby river and its watershed, according to a new study.

Research published online yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that 13 elements classified as priority pollutants … Read the rest

Canada picks site for Arctic Research Station

Cambridge Bay location offers a wealth of opportunities for studying the far north.

After months of deliberation, the Canadian government has chosen Cambridge Bay — a hamlet midway along the Northwest Passage in the country’s far north — as the site for a world-class Arctic research station.

Once built, the station will house scientists all year round, giving them a modern space to study Arctic issues, including climate change and … Read the rest

Sewer studies based on leaky science

Questionable sampling techniques have led to murky conclusions about the contents of waste water.

Chemicals flushing into sewer systems have been in the news for years. From opiates and hormones to heart medications, studies have detected a range of pollutants. Tests of sewage from hospitals have uncovered antibiotics, and investigations of sewage systems have exposed widespread illicit drug use in cities worldwide.

But now a group of water-management scientists claim … Read the rest

Canadian science minister under fire

Comments on evolution spark fierce criticism.

It’s been a rough month for Canada’s minister of science and technology. Gary Goodyear, who was appointed to the new position in October 2008, has been roundly criticized in the media for an outburst during a meeting with a university teachers’ group and for his comments on evolution.

Some Canadian researchers say the criticism is unreasonable, but others say it suggests that Goodyear, a … Read the rest

Canadian research infrastructure receives support, but will it last?

Investment in infrastructure typically brings to mind hard-hat projects such as the construction of highways. But to keep science on the fast track, focused funding of research infrastructure is necessary. Following this logic, in December the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced it would award C$45.5 million ($35.9 million) to specific Canadian research projects. The investment will support more than 250 projects, including those in the health field, by providing … Read the rest