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Document the presence of pharmaceutical and personal care products in the St. Lawrence and selected tributaries

Context and project description

One of the SLAP projects aims to document the presence of pharmaceutical substances in the outflow of the river in the Montréal region and to evaluate the effects on aquatic life. With this project, we will know more about the presence of these substances, but in different areas in the river between Québec and Carillon, upstream from Montréal.

In fact, it consists of jointly pooling and interpreting data collected separately by Environment and Climate Change Canada and by Quebec’s Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs, at 11 sampling stations from 2006 to 2010. Three stations were located at the mouths of the Ottawa, Richelieu and Saint-Maurice rivers. In all, data regarding 44 different substances was collected, some thirty of which were medications (specifically antibiotics and anti-inflammatory analgesics). The goal of the project is to interpret the measured concentrations of each of these products. Because they are substances that are even less documented, it is often necessary to search elsewhere in the world to find data for comparisons, in order to determine if the concentrations are very, slightly or not high with respect to the water quality.

The concrete result of this pooling will be the publication of a fact sheet, with tables and graphs, that will be added to the other fact sheets in the Monitoring the State of the St. Lawrence program. These documents are accessible on the SLAP’s Web site. In general, the project will create a strong knowledge of the concentrations of pharmaceutical and personal care products in the river. This will be added to the collection of knowledge that we are developing on the contaminants of emerging interest, some of which require several years in order to truly understand their toxicity.


Generally speaking, this project enables us to expand our knowledge regarding the concentrations of pharmaceutical and personal care products found in the river. The information gathered as part of this project is presented on a datasheet containing the concentrations of medications, hormones and a few other contaminants of interest found in the St. Lawrence and three of its tributaries. You can consult the datasheet using the links below. Knowledge of these concentrations could be useful, for example, to researchers who study the toxicity of detected substances in laboratories. They will now know what contaminant concentrations to use to conduct their toxicity tests if they want conditions that are representative of those in the St. Lawrence River.

To consult the datasheet:

PDF Version

HTML Version

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Health Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques