Panel to discuss impact of contaminated drinking water tonight

The National Network on Environments & Women’s Health (NNEWH) at York will host a free panel discussion exploring the issue of pharmaceuticals and disinfectant byproducts in drinking water tonight.

“What’s In That Glass?: Sex, Gender, and the Water We Drink” will take place at 7pm in the Spadina Room at the Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown Hotel, 475 Yonge St. in Toronto.

The panel will look at what research has been started on this issue, what is and is not known about the impact on of pharmaceuticals and disinfectant byproducts in the water supply on sex and gender, and alternative routes for managing this environmental hazard.

The panel includes Pam Eliason, senior associate director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell; Professor Deborah MacLatchy, vice-president academic & provost and a founding Fellow of the Canadian Rivers Institute at Wilfrid Laurier University; and environmental and resource studies Professor Chris Metcalfe, director of the Institute for Watershed Science at Trent University.

Eliason has been an integral part of the research arm of the TURI since 2000. She promotes green chemistry research and application in academia and industry and has been active in convening multidisciplinary research teams to investigate the environmental and human health implications of nanomaterials use.

In 2006, she was a lead author of TURI’s Five Chemicals Alternatives Assessment Study, conducted at the request of the Massachusetts legislature, and was responsible for developing the methodology for assessing  and researching alternatives to the plasticizer DEHP. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked for 15 years in environmental engineering consulting, providing services that included toxics use reduction planning and multimedia regulatory compliance auditing for industries in New England and throughout the United States.

Left: Deborah MacLatchy

MacLatchy is a founding member of the Laurier Institute for Water Sciences and the former dean of the Faculty of Science at Laurier, from 2007 to 2009. Prior to that, she was dean of science, Applied Science & Engineering at the University of New Brunswick from 2004 to 2007.  An ecotoxicologist and comparative endocrinologist, she has published over 65 peer-reviewed publications in her field and is a 2005 recipient, with Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd. and Environment Canada, of a Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada Synergy Award for Innovation for partnerships for her collaborative work on the issue of endocrine disruption from industrial contaminants in fish. 

Metcalfe has focused his research over the past 18 years on the environmental distribution and toxic effects of organic contaminants. His past research focused on the fate and effects of persistent, non-polar contaminants, such as PCBs and pesticides, but his recent work has shifted to an emphasis on polar contaminants in industrial and municipal wastewaters.

His ongoing research on the fate and distribution of pharmaceutical and personal care products in the environment has generated considerable attention both nationally and internationally. He is currently working on a project to evaluate the distribution and impacts of the release of nanoparticles into the environment. Metcalfe is also involved in in vitro and in vivo studies on the toxicological effects of contaminants.

For more information, visit the NNEWH Web site or the Women and Water Web site.