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Queen's University

Peter V. Hodson



Department & Associations

Emeritus Professor, School of Environmental Studies & Department of Biology

Contact Information

Office: Rm 3122 Biosciences Complex
Phone: 613.533.6129
Fax: 613.533.6090

Mailing Address:Biosciences Complex Rm 3122,
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada,
K7L 3N6


In Progress - PhD Students

Julie Adams

Completed MES Students

Tamzin El-Fityani

Shirin Fallahtafti

Anna Graham

Helen Power

and graduate students from Biology, Chemistry and Civil Engineering.

Academic Training

Ph.D., Zoology, University of Guelph 1974
M.Sc., Biology, University of New Brunswick 1970
B.Sc., Physiology, McGill University 1968

Website - Inactive

Current Research

Fish Toxicology:

  • Toxicological significance of chemical metabolism
  • Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), complex mixtures of PAH
  • Structure-activity relationships for PAH, including toxic equivalent factors
  • Biomarkers of PAH exposure and toxicity
  • Toxicity of crude and refined oils and diluted bitumen
  • Effects-Driven Chemical Fractionation of crude and refined oils
  • Effect of chemical dispersants on oil toxicity
  • Transfer of sediment mercury through aquatic food webs in the St. Lawrence River.
  • Role of chemical contamination in the decline of the American Eel

My primary interest is the role of metabolism in chemical toxicity to fish, with a focus on the reactive by-products of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) metabolism by liver mixed function oxygenases enzymes (i.e. the cytochrome P450 or CYP1A enzymes).  The goal is to understand the mechanism of PAH toxicity to the early life stages (embryos and larvae) of fish and the consequences for larval survival and recruitment.  Research on mechanisms includes the role of alkyl substitution in the toxicity of petrogenic PAH, the identification of which PAH in crude and refined oils are toxic to fish, and how chemical dispersion of oil controls exposure to petrogenic PAH.  The results are directly applicable to ecological risk assessment of PAHs from oil, coal tar, creosote, soot and the by-products of microbial degradation of resin acids from pulp mill effluents.  I have also been involved in studies of the transfer of mercury from point sources and from contaminated sediments through aquatic food webs of the St. Lawrence River, the contamination of St. Lawrence River sediments by pesticides used at EXPO 67, and the potential role of chemical contamination in the declining abundance of American eel in Lake Ontario.

Past research has been supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's Best in Science program, and research contracts from the Canadian Offshore Oil and Gas Environmental Research (COOGER) centre, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. These grants facilitated collaboration with other scientists at Queen’s, the University of Waterloo,  the Université de Québec à Rimouski, the University of Maine, the University of Jyvaskyla and the University of Joensuu in Finland, with Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Current research includes a collaborative project with Valerie Langlois (RMC) on the toxicity of diluted bitumen to native fish species of Canada and the identification of molecular markers of oil exposure and effects.  Research funded by an NSERC Strategic Grant with Ana daSilva (CIVL – PI) and co-PIs Stephen Brown (CHEM, SES), Kevin Mumford (CIVL) and Allison Rutter (ASE, SES) and supported by Environment Canada and Northwest Hydraulics Inc is investigating the potential role of hyporheic flows in transporting oil droplets from surface waters of rivers into bed sediments where fish spawn.  Hyporheic flows are currents of water that move through porous gravel sediments due to pressure gradients caused by the flow of rivers over uneven bottom features of rivers.  Julie Adams, a PhD student in Environmental Studies, is investigating the toxicity to fish embryos of petroleum hydrocarbons that dissolve from stranded oil droplets in sediments, and developing exposure models that can replicate sediment oil contamination in rivers.


Invited Member of a Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on The Behaviour and Environmental Impacts of Crude Oil Released into Aqueous Environments, January 13, 2015-June 30, 2015.

Past Teaching at Queen's
  • Guest Lecturer – ENSC 201; ENSC 425; ENSC 801
  • Environmental toxicology (co-instructor – ENSC 201)
  • Ecotoxicology (ENSC 325 and 425)
  • Honours project in Sustainability (co-instructor ENSC 400; 410)
  • Honours project in Environmental Studies (ENSC 502)
  • Honours thesis in Environmental Studies (ENSC 596)
  • Methodological and Conceptual Basis for Environmental Studies (co-instructor ENSC 801)
  • Graduate course in sustainability (co-instructor - ENSC 802)
  • Ecology and the Environment (BIOL 111)
  • Ecotoxicology Field Course (BIOL 307)
  • Biochemical adaptations to extreme environments (BIOL 506)
  • Honours projects (BIOL 537)
  • Environmental Issues (co-instructor - BIOL 849)
  • Fish toxicology (BIOL 856)

Recent Journal Publications (bold = students and PDFs)

  1. Lin, H., Morandi, G.D., Brown, R.S., Snieckus, V., Rantanen, T., Jørgensen, K.B., Hodson, P.V. 2015. Quantitative structure-activity relationships for chronic toxicity of alkyl-chrysenes and alkyl-benz[a]anthracenes to Japanese medaka embryos (Oryzias latipes).  Aquatic Toxicology 159:109-118.
  2. Hodson, P.V., Norris, K, Berquist, M., Campbell L.M., Ridal, J.J. 2014. Mercury concentrations in fish and amphipods of the St. Lawrence River (Canada) are unrelated to concentrations of legacy mercury in sediments.  Sci. Total Environ 494-495:218-228.
  3. Redman, AD, Parkerton, TF, Letinski, DJ, Manning, RG, Adams, JE, Hodson, PV. 2014. Evaluating toxicity of heavy fuel oil fractions using complimentary modeling and biomimetic extraction methods. Environ Tox Chem 33:2094-2104
  4. Byer, J.D., Pacepavicius, G., Lebeuf, Brown, R.S., Backus, S., Hodson, P.V., Alaee, M. 2014.   Qualitative analysis of halogenated organic contaminants in American eel by gas chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Chemosphere 116:98-103.
  5. Rigaud, C, Couillard, CM, Pellerin, J, Légaré, B, Hodson, PV. 2014.  Applicability of the TCDD-TEQ approach to predict sublethal embryotoxicity in Fundulus heteroclitus. Aq. Tox. 149:133-144.
  6. Adams, JE, Munno, K, Bornstein, J, King, T, Brown, RS, Hollebone, BP, Hodson, PV. 2014. Identification of compounds in heavy fuel oil that are chronically toxic to rainbow trout embryos through effects-driven chemical fractionation. Env. Toxicol. Chem 33:825-835. DOI: 10.1002/etc.2497 (*)
  7. Bornstein, JM, Adams, JE,Hollebone, B, King, T, Hodson, PV, Brown, RS. 2014. Effects-driven chemical fractionation of heavy fuel oil to isolate compounds toxic to trout embryos. Env. Toxicol. Chem 33:814-824.  DOI: 10.1002/etc.2492  (*)
  8. Martin, J.D., Adams, A., Hollebone, B.P., King, T., Brown, R.S., Hodson, P.V. 2014. Chronic toxicity of heavy fuel oils to fish embryos using multiple exposure scenarios.  Env. Toxicol. Chem 33:677-687. DOI: 10.1002/etc.2486 (*)
  9. Sühring, R., J. Byer, M. Freese, J-D. Pohlmann, H. Wolschke, A. Möller, P. V. Hodson, M. Alaee, R. Hanel, R. Ebinghaus. 2014. Brominated flame retardants and Dechloranes in European and American eels from glass to silver life stages. Chemosphere 116:104-111 (*)
  10. Adams, J.,Sweezey, M.R.,  Hodson, P.V. 2014. Oil and oil dispersant do not cause synergistic toxicity to fish embryos.  Env. Toxicol. Chem.33:107-114. DOI: 10.1002/etc.2397 (*)
  11. Byer, J.D., Alaee, M., Brown, R.S., Lebeuf, M., Backus, S., Keir, M., Pacepavicius, G., Casselman, J., Belpaire, C., Oliveira, K., and Verreault, G., Hodson, P.V.   2013. Spatial trends of dioxin-like compounds in Atlantic eels. : Chemosphere 91:1439-1446. 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.01.062  
  12. Razavi, NR, JJ Ridal, W de Wit, MBC Hickey, LM Campbell and PV Hodson. 2013. Ebullition rates and mercury concentrations in St. Lawrence River sediments and a benthic invertebrate.  Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 32:857-865. DOI: 10.1002/etc.2118
  13. Hodson, PV. 2013. A history of environmental contamination by oil sands extraction.  Invited commentary.  Proc Nat Acad Sci 110:1569-1570.doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221660110
  14. Byer, J.D., Lebeuf, M., Alaee, M., Brown, R.S., Trottier, S., Backus, S., Keir, M., Casselman, J., Hodson, P.V.   2013. Spatial trends of organochlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in Atlantic eels. Chemosphere  90:1719–1728 
  15. Rigaud, C,  CM Couillard, J Pellerin, B Legare, P Gonzalez, PV Hodson. 2013. Relative potency of PCB126 to TCDD for sublethal embryotoxicity in the mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus).  Aq Tox. 128-129:203-214
  16. Gagnon, M.M., Hodson, P.V. 2012. Field studies using fish biomarkers – how many fish are enough?  Mar. Poll. Bull. 64 :2871-2876
  17. Greer, CD, Hodson, PV, Li, Z, King, T, Lee, L. 2012. Toxicity of crude oil chemically dispersed in a wave tank to Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) embryos. Env. Tox. Chem. 31: 1324-1333
  18. Wu, D., Wang, Z., Hollebone, B., McIntosh, S., King, T., Hodson, P.V. 2012. Comparative toxicity of four chemically-dispersed and undispersed crude oils to rainbow trout embryos.  Environ Toxicol Chem 31:754-765 
  19. Arthur, T., Harjani, J.R., Phan, L., Scott, L.M., Jessop, P.G., Hodson, P.V. 2012.  Effects-driven chemical design: the acute toxicity of CO2-triggered switchable surfactants to rainbow trout can be predicted from octanol-water partition coefficients.  Green Chem 15:357-362.  DOI: 10.1039/C1GC15620A
  20. Fallahtafti, S., Rantanen, T., Brown, R.S., Snieckus, V., Hodson, P.V. 2012.  Toxicity of hydroxylated alkyl-phenanthrenes to the early life stages of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes).  Aq. Tox. 106-107:56-64 doi:10.1016/j.aquatox.2011.10.007 publ ol 8 /11/11

Refereed Technical Reports & Conference Proceedings

  1. Byer, JD, Pacepavicius , G, Lebeuf, M, Hodson, PV, Brown, RS, and Alaee, M. 2013. Post-target determination of brominated flame retardants and related compounds in American eels captured in eastern Canada. Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium on Brominated Flame Retardants.
  2. Hodson,PV, S Kennedy, C Rigaud, CM Couillard, J Casselman, C. Belpaire. 2012. Are chemical contaminants contributing to the recruitment failure of American eel (Anguilla rostrata)? T. Stewart and G. Veinott (Editors). 2012. Proceedings of the Ninth Meeting of the Canadian Eel Science Working Group, 29-30 November, 2011, Montreal, QC.


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