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Ryerson Urban Water
Dr. Lynda McCarthy

Dr. Lynda McCarthy is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University. Her research includes aquatic ecotoxicology, Great Lakes pollution and remediation, and the impact on organisms from land-­applied pulp mill and municipal biosolids.

Lynda McCarthy leads a team of highly-qualified personnel who have been researching the land-application of industrial and municipal biosolids and studying impacts on agricultural ecosystems for the past 14 years.

She is the recipient of NSERC and NCE research awards and is a frequent invited speaker at municipalities across Canada and at international conferences.

She has acquired more than $1.7M in research funding support in the past 10 years and additionally she is the Founder of Ryerson Urban Water a consortium of more than 40 Ryerson faculty researching water issues.  McCarthy collaborates on many of the research projects undertaken by RUW.

In recent years, McCarthy’s work on biosolids has received support from the Canadian Water Network, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). Under controlled laboratory conditions, the impact of soil amended with different types of biosolids from municipalities across Canada on the growth, behaviour, and/or reproduction of a multi-species array of terrestrial and aquatic organisms has been assessed and the results disseminated (Canadian Water Network publication below).

On August 12, 2016, Dr. McCarthy and fellow scientists Drs. Paul Sibley, Chris Metcalf, and J.E. Loyo released a rebuttal to the Open Letter stating that biosolids are treated through sophisticated, engineered processes to meet strict government regulations that assure health and environmental safety before they can be applied to agricultural lands. They cite the disposal of biosolids through land application as a sustainable, cost-effective solution that adds nutrients to the soil, benefiting crop production and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

What is agreed on, is the growing pressure that municipalities face about biosolids management, from increasing volume and costs for landfill disposal, to public distrust of land application methods. Dr. McCarthy cites that public discourse and education is a critical component of the discussion. 

To support public discourse and education, Dr. McCarthy has been an invited speaker at several events in the US and in Canada in the last year. Dr. McCarthy has spoken about her own biosolids research, in addition to, her extensive knowledge of the scientific literature to date.

Next Research Steps:

  • Evaluating use of engineered wetlands to reduce eutrophication effects caused by agricultural runoff
  • Macrophyte selection criteria: non-invasive native species in Ontario
  • Indigenous species: Zizania aquatica (wild rice) and Carex sp. (fox sedge) will evaluate for nutrient sequestration efficiency

 

 

For more information on Dr. Lynda McCarthy visit http://www.ryerson.ca/minerscanary/!