Peter Hodson

Professor Emeritus

Peter Hodson

Contact Information

Mailing Address

Biosciences Complex
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
K7L 3N6

 *Dr. Hodson is no longer taking on new research grants or trainees*  


Peter Hodson on a bridge

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

Current Research​

Fish Toxicology

Current and past projects

  • Role of hyporheic flows in fate, distribution, and effects of oil spilled to rivers.
  • Toxicity of crude and refined oils and diluted bitumen to marine and freshwater fish species.
  • Effect of chemical dispersants on oil toxicity.
  • Toxicity test methods for crude and refined oils and diluted bitumen.
  • The use of fluorescence spectrometry to characterize solutions of oil in water
  • Structure-activity relationships for polynuclear aromatic compounds (PACs), specifically the role of alkyl substitution in the toxicity of petrogenic PAH.
  • The identification of which PAC in crude and refined oils are toxic to fish.
  • The role of metabolism in chemical toxicity to fish, with a focus on the reactive by-products of PAC metabolism by liver cytochrome P450 or CYP1A enzymes.
  • Biomarkers of PAC exposure and toxicity.

My research is directly applicable to the ecological risk assessment of PACs 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.

My current research includes a collaborative project 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.  We have investigated the role of hyporheic flows in transporting oil droplets from surface waters of rivers into porous 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, has investigated 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.  This project is in the final stages of manuscript completion with several papers already published.

Much of my time is taken up with publishing research papers and, for the last three years, with writing and editing a textbook on Ecotoxicology with Peter Campbell (INRS), Pamela Welbourn (Queen’s) and David Wright (U. of Maryland).  The publication by Cambridge University Press is expected in 2022.

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 Universities of Jyvaskyla and Joensuu in Finland, with Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


  • Invited member of an on-line workshop: Modernizing Chemical Response to Oil Spills: Ecological Effects Research Forum (CROSERF) Aquatic Toxicity Testing Protocols, March 2, 2021.  Hosted by the Huntsman Marine Laboratory, St. Andrew’s NB.  Invited presentation: Adams, J.E. and P.V. Hodson 2021. Do we need ‘standard’ oil toxicity tests or standard methods for conducting oil toxicity tests?

  • Invited member of a six-session on-line National Science Advisory WorkshopState of Knowledge on Chemical Dispersants for Canadian Marine Oil Spills, March 1 – 12, 2021.  Hosted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS)

  • 2018-2021 Member of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Multi-Partner Oil Spill Research Initiative (MPRI) Advisory Committee
  • 2014-2021 Member for the Beatty Water Research Centre Research Advisory Committee

  • 2010-2021 Member of the River Institute Research Advisory Committee, St. Lawrence River Institute, Cornwall ON
  • 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.

Teaching at Queen's

  • Guest Lecturer – ENSC 201; ENSC 203
  • Honours project in Environmental Studies (ENSC 502)
  • Graduate student supervision

(bold = students and PDFs)

  1. Marvin, C.H., Berthiaume, A., Burniston, D.A., Chibwe, L., Dove, A., Evans, M., Hewitt, M., Hodson, P.V., Muir, D.C.G., Parrott, J., Thomas, P.J., Tomy, G.T., 2021. Polycyclic aromatic compounds in the Canadian Environment: Aquatic and terrestrial environments. Environmental Pollution, 117442
  2. Adams, J.E., Brown, R.S. and Hodson, P.V. 2020 The bioavailability of oil droplets trapped in river gravel by hyporheic flows.  Environmental Pollution 269, 116110
  3. Hodson, P.V., Wallace, S.J., de Solla, S.R., Head, J.A., Hepditch, S.L.J., Parrott, J.L., Thomas, P.J., Berthiaume, A., Langlois, V.S., 2020. Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in the Canadian environment: The challenges of ecological risk assessments Environmental Pollution 266:115165
  4. Adams, J.E., Madison, B.N., Charbonneau, K., Sereneo, M., Baillon, L., Langlois,V.S., Brown, R.S., Hodson, P.V.  2020.  Effects on trout alevins of chronic exposures to chemically-dispersed Access Western Blend and Cold Lake Blend dilbits.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 39:1620-1633.
  5. Wallace S.J., de Solla, S.R., Head, J., Hodson, P.V., Parrott, J.L., Thomas, P.J., Langlois, V.S. 2020. Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in the Canadian environment: Exposure and effects on wildlife. Environmental Pollution 265:114863
  6. Madison, B.N., Wallace, S.J., Zhang, J., Hodson, P.V., Langlois, V.S. 2020. Transcriptional responses in newly-hatched Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) associated with developmental malformations following diluted bitumen exposure. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part D: Genomics and Proteomics 35:100685.
  7. Honkanen, J.O., Rees, C.B., Kukkonen, J.V.K. and Hodson, P.V. 2020.  Temperature determines the rate at which retene affects fish embryos, not the concentration that is toxic.  Aq. Toxicol. 222:105471
  8. Hodson, PV, Adams, J., Brown, RS. 2019. Oil toxicity test methods must be improved.  Environ Toxicol Chem. 38:302-311.
  9. Belpaire, C., Pierron, F., Hodson, P.V., Freese, M. 2019. Impact of chemical pollution on Atlantic eels: facts, research needs and implications for management.  Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health 11:26-36.
  10. McDonnell, D., Madison, B.N., Baillon, L., Wallace, S.J., Brown, R.S., Hodson, P.V., S. Langlois, V.S. 2018. Comparative toxicity of two diluted bitumens to developing yellow perch (Perca flavescens). Sci Total Environ 655, 977-985. .
  11. Alsaadi, F.M.,  Madison, B.N., Brown, R.S. Hodson, P.V., Langlois, V.S. 2018. Morphological and molecular effects of two diluted bitumens on developing fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Aquat. Tox. 204:107-116.
  12. Hoobin, S.J., Byer, J.D., Alaee, M., Brown R.S. and Hodson, P.V. 2018.  Dioxin-like contaminants are no longer a risk to the American eel (Anguilla rostrata) in Lake Ontario. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 37:1061–1070.
  13. Alsaadi, F., Hodson, P. V, & Langlois, V. S. 2018. An Embryonic Field of Study: The aquatic fate and toxicity of diluted bitumen. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 100:8–13.
  14. Bloch, S.R., Kim, J.J., Pham, P.H., Hodson, P.V., Lee, L.E.J., and Bols, N.C. 2017.  Responses of an American eel brain endothelial-like cell line to selenium deprivation and to selenite, selenate and selenomethionine additions in different exposure media.  In Vitro Cell. & Develop. Biol. – Animal. 53:940-953.
  15. Madison, B.N., P.V. Hodson and V.S. Langlois. 2017.  Cold Lake Blend diluted bitumen toxicity to the early development of Japanese medaka. Environmental Pollution 225:579-586.
  16. Hodson, P.V. 2017.  The toxicity to fish embryos of PAH in crude and refined oils.  Arch. Env Contam Toxicol 73:12-18.  doi:10.1007/s00244-016-0357-6
  17. Adams, J., Charbonneau, K., Tuori, D., Brown, R.S. and Hodson, P.V. 2017. Review of Methods for Measuring the Toxicity to Aquatic Organisms of the Water Accommodated Fraction (WAF) and Chemically-Enhanced Water Accommodated Fraction (CEWAF) of petroleum. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2017/064. xi + 110 p.
  18. Adams, J., Charbonneau, K., Tuori, D., Brown, R.S., Hodson, P.V. 2017. The case for standardizing Oil Toxicity Test Methods.   pp 441-462, In : Proc 40th Arctic and Marine Oilspill Program Tech Seminar, Ottawa, ON.  Environmental Science and Technology Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa
  19. Pelletier, M., El-Fityani, T., Graham, A., Rutter, A., Michelutti, N.,  Zeng, D.M., Sivarajah, B., Smol, J.P., and Hodson, P.V. 2016. Tracking pesticide use in the Saint Lawrence River and its ecological impacts during the World Exhibition of 1967 in Montreal, Canada.  Sci Total Environ 572-498-507.
  20. Beyer, J., Trannum, H.C., Bakke, T., Hodson, P.V, and Collier, T. 2016. Environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: a review.  Mar Poll Bull 110:28-51.
  21. Vehniäinen, E-R., Bremer, K., Scott, J.A., Junttila, S., Laiho, L., Gyenesei, A., Hodson, P.V., and Oikari, A.O.J. 2016.  Retene causes multifunctional transcriptomic changes in the heart of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) embryos.  Env Tox Pharmacol.  41:95-102.
  22. Rigaud, C., Couillard, C.M., Pellerin, J., Légaré, B., Byer, J.D., Alaee, M., Lebeuf, M.,. Casselman, J.M., Hodson, P.V. 2016 Temporal variations in embryotoxicity of Lake Ontario American eel (Anguilla rostrata) extracts to developing Fundulus heteroclitus. Sci. Total Environ. 541:765-776
  23. Lee, Kenneth (chair), Michel Boufadel, Bing Chen, Julia Foght, Peter Hodson, Stella Swanson, Albert Venosa. (2015). Expert Panel Report on the Behaviour and Environmental Impacts of Crude Oil Released into Aqueous Environments. Royal Society of Canada, Ottawa, ON. ISBN: 978-1-928140-02-3
  24. Bloch, S.R, Vo, N.T.K., Walsh, S.K., Chen, C.C., Lee, L.E.J., Hodson, P.V. and Bols, N.C. 2015. Development of a cell line from the American eel brain expressing endothelial cell properties.  In Vitro Cell Develop Biol – Animal.  Published on-line Dec 29, 2015
  25. Madison, B.N., Hodson, P.V. and Langlois, V.S. 2015.  Diluted bitumen causes deformities and molecular responses indicative of oxidative stress in Japanese medaka embryos. Aq Toxicol 165:222-230.
  26. Byer, J.D., Lebeuf, M., Trottier, S., Raach, M., Alaee, M., Brown, R.S., Backus, S., Casselman, J., Hodson, P.V.  2015. Trends of Persistent Organic Pollutants in American eel (Anguilla rostrata) from Eastern Lake Ontario, Canada, and their potential effects on recruitment. Sci. Total Environ. 529: 231-242. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.054
  27. 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).  Aq Toxicol 159:109-118.