The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry will present David W. Schindler, an international renowned American/Canadian limnologist who recently retired from the University of Alberta and who is best known for his work on the role of laundry detergent phosphates as a pollutant killing lakes, with the prestigious Rachel Carson Award at the 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual Meeting on 6 November in Orlando, Florida.
The Rachel Carson Award is presented every four years at a SETAC World Congress, and it acknowledges a scientist or science writer who has made significant contributions to increase awareness among the public of potential threats to the natural world. In addition to communicating effectively, high standards for accuracy, a broad view of environmental issues and a passion for political change, even in the face of controversy, are key criteria when selecting a winner. Schindler possesses all of these.
Schindler served as founding director of the Experimental Lakes Area research station in Ontario, Canada, which allowed researchers to conduct interdisciplinary research on topics ranging from eutrophication to acid rain, and he examined the effects of watershed management practices and climate change on aquatic ecosystems. His seminal work on eutrophication has been used to establish ecological management policies around the world. Schindler spent many hours explaining his research on phosphorous to policymakers, which resulted in the removal of phosphates from laundry detergents and improvements in sewage treatment. Recently, his work on the effects of oil sand mining on the Athabasca River, and its tributaries has prompted upgraded monitoring at both the provincial and federal levels.
These accomplishments alone are laudable, but Schindler has also spent much of his time working with Aboriginal Canadians for the protection of their aquatic resources. In addition to chairing the Board of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation, a small not-for-profit foundation that provides educational material about water to school children and safe drinking water to aboriginal communities, he has been invited to address Cree and Chipewayn chiefs on the topic of water. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran a documentary about the influence of Schindler’s study and the potential impacts of oil sands on aboriginal health.