Research Accomplishments

Non-Technical Description of Research Contributions of Dr. Frank Gobas 

Background: Our society generates, uses and discharges many thousands of chemical substances in millions of products. Some of these chemicals may be harmful to human and environmental health. Our research supports and helps shaping local, national and international initiatives aimed to ensure that chemical use is sustainable and safe for the environment and human health. We do this by (i) conducting scientific studies on the behavior of chemicals in the environment, (ii) the generation of environmental models that make science accessible for use by the community of government agencies, industry, academia, NGOs and community groups, (iii) policy analysis of the effectiveness of environmental regulations, and (iv) education and community out-reach.



Research Accomplishments 

My research program has produced ground-breaking work on the mechanisms involved in the uptake and bioaccumulation of chemicals in humans, animals and plants and the transfer of chemicals in food-chains. This research has contributed new regulatory criteria that have been adopted in many countries to better control and prevent adverse effects of chemical manufacture and use. 

My research has created mathematical models that are used by governments, industry, academia and the general public to forecast the behaviour and effects of chemicals in the environment. They include models used by the USEPA to develop water quality criteria in the US; the AquaWeb Bioaccumulation Model used by Environment Canada for chemical categorization and worldwide for food-web bioaccumulation assessment (e.g. at US Superfund sites); the Arnot-Gobas model used in the USEPA‚Äôs EpiSuite program which is widely program used to assess the behaviour of chemicals in the environment; the KABAM and the AGRO 2014 models which are used by the USEPA for pesticide evaluation and registration in the US; the San Francisco Bay model for setting legally mandated clean-up targets in San Francisco Bay; the Activity Calculator, which provides methods for assessing the chemical activity of chemicals in the environment for use in risk assessment; the ADME-B(ioaccumulation) model for the interpretation of OECD 305 dietary bioaccumulation tests; and the wetland treatment model used in Alberta to develop treatment options for the remediation of Oil Sands Process Water. 

Our research has led initiatives to reduce animal testing in bioaccumulation and toxicity tests by developing novel in-vitro and in-silico methods for assessing the bioaccumulation of chemicals in fish and mammals. 

Our research has pioneered a novel risk assessment method (i.e., chemical activity analysis) to better assess the behaviour of chemicals in the environment, consistent with the vision of the National Research Council for exposure and risk assessment in the 21st century. This includes methods to account for multi-media exposures, the toxicity of mixtures of chemicals, reduction of animal testing and considering multiple lines of evidence in risk assessment. This paper was one of the top- downloaded papers in 2017-2018 in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 

Locally, our research has focussed on the health effect of pollutants on BC Southern Resident Killer whales, focussing on monitoring for pollution sources and developing betterwater quality guidelines. Also, we have worked for many years on the development of constructed wetlands for treating oils sands process water in Northern Alberta.