The Appropriateness of Using Aquatic Snails as Bioindicators of Toxicity for Oil Sands Process-Affected Water
InnoTech Alberta, Vegreville, AB T9C 1T4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pollutants 2021, 1(1), 10-17; https://doi.org/10.3390/pollutants1010002
Received: 3 December 2020 / Revised: 22 December 2020 / Accepted: 28 December 2020 / Published: 6 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Pollution Monitoring)
Canada’s oil sands mining activity produces large volumes of oil sands process-affected water (OSPW), and there have been increasing concerns regarding the potential environmental impacts associated with this material. Developing an understanding of the toxicity of OSPW is critical to anticipating and mitigating the potential risks and effects of the oil sands industry on surrounding ecosystems. The composition of OSPW is highly variable and is influenced by a range of factors. While numerous research projects have been conducted on the toxicity of OSPW, much remains unknown about its impact on various biota. Freshwater gastropods (snails and slugs) are an ecologically crucial aquatic group, and members of this taxa have been used as bioindicators in a range of ecological settings. The literature suggests freshwater snails could be used as an indicator of toxicity in monitoring programs associated with oil sands development. This mini-review explores the use of snails as bioindicators in aquatic systems affected by oil sands development, focusing on how snails may respond to potential constituents of concern in systems exposed to OSPW.