Hundreds of environmental chemists from across the country gathered in Toronto this past September for EnviroAnalysis 2013, North America’s premier conference in environmental analysis and monitoring. Held biennially since 1996, EnviroAnalysis was founded by research scientist Ray Clement (this year’s conference chair) and Bob Burk, FCIC, chair of the Department of Chemistry at Carleton University. For the first time, the event was a collaboration between Clement, Teresa Switzer of Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC).

The program featured a mix of technical sessions and career development opportunities. Plenary speakers representing government, academia and industry provided insights into how environmental analytical chemistry is evolving. For example, detection limits have decreased by 10 orders of magnitude over the past 100 years, yet separating, detecting and quantifying the individual components of complex mixtures remains a challenge. More than 20 technical symposia covered advances in traditional techniques like chromatography and mass spectrometry to emerging methods like microwave extraction and immunoassays.

On the careers side, plenary speaker Grant Trump, CEO of the Environmental Careers Organization, spoke about what his organization is doing to create a pool of workers with “demonstrated skills and knowledge required to meet the environmental human resources needs of the public and private sectors.”

At the conference banquet, three bright young scientists were recognized with the Karasek Award for best student posters. Winners included: Le Zhang (Colloidal Self-Assembled Particles in Microfluidic Devices for Environmental Monitoring) and Qingqing Liu (Arsenic Specification in the Breast of Chickens Fed with Roxarsone), both of the University of Alberta. Olivier Nguon of Waterloo University (Greening Metal Concentration Determination using Microplasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry: Application to Nanocatalysis) was the third recipient.

EnviroAnalysis 2013 was a great success, with about 150 attendees and 29 exhibitors at the three-day conference. Going forward, organizers hope to expand the conference’s reach to Western Canada in 2014. By leveraging the growing need for environmental monitoring spurred by Alberta’s burgeoning oil industry, the CIC and its partners hope to keep environmental analytical chemistry at the forefront of Canadian innovation and further strengthen the bonds between its many stakeholders.

Photo: David Brock of Caledon Laboratories presents the Caledon Award to McMaster University Department of Chemistry Chair William Leigh, FCIC, who accepted the award posthumously on behalf of MU professor Brian McCarry.