Two workers sampling for DDT in pond sediment near the golf course maintenance compound in Prince Albert National Park.
Sampling for DDT in pond sediment near the golf course maintenance compound.
© Parks Canada

Visitor safety and the health of the environment are top priorities for Parks Canada.

When environmental studies found traces of DDT (dichloro- diphenyl- trichloreothane) were still present in Prince Albert National Park more than thirty years after it was last used, Parks Canada was concerned. As a result, Parks Canada initiated a follow-up study by the Environmental Sciences Group of the Royal Military College of Canada, a leader in the field.

Historically, DDT use was widespread in North America for many years. From the late 1940s and into the 1970s, Prince Albert National Park used DDT as a pesticide for mosquito control. DDT use was widely restricted in Canada and the U.S. in the 1970s for its harmful effects on animals, particularly birds, and it was banned altogether by both countries in the 1980s.

The thorough, two-year investigation involved the collection and testing of numerous environmental samples, which were compared with national guidelines for safe amounts of DDT in soil, sediment, water and garden produce. Risk assessments were then undertaken to define the acceptable exposure levels to the chemical for both humans and animals. The final result? Though traces of DDT are still present in the park, by assessing how people and animals come into contact with the chemical, Parks Canada is able to ensure that it poses no risk to the parks many inhabitants. No further action or clean-up is needed!

Project benefits

A yellow warbler feeding her young in their nest in Prince Albert National Park.
© Parks Canada

Not only does Prince Albert National Park remain a safe place for people of all ages to live, work and play, but the large-scale study was the first of its kind to take place in a residential area. Experts were able to determine that the remaining levels of DDT in the environment do not pose a risk to either people or animals, and can now use these measurements, and the study design, as a template if there is a need to assess the impact of DDT at other national parks.