An investigation of fish and water quality in Primrose Lake and their effects on Cold Lake First Nations members

Fiscal Year



Cold Lake First Nation, Alberta

Principal Investigator

Claire McAuley, M.Sc., Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc.

Community Project Lead

Darren Frederick

Project Members

Chris Akomolafe, Sarah Chileen, Findlay MacDermid, Terri Kutt, Dan Piche, Cody Jacknife and Keely Winitoy



Project Summary

The people of Cold Lake First Nations raised concerns about pollutants in Primrose Lake from the oil and gas developments in the vicinity of the lake and the military activities at the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR). These concerns have led many residents to reduce their consumption of fish from the lake.

The objectives of this study were to characterize fish tissue and water quality from Primrose Lake using  laboratory analytic methods. Fish species and water samples were collected and analyzed for concentrations of heavy metals (arsenic and mercury), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX), petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC), kerosene and jet fuel. A consumption survey was conducted to collect data on fish consumption by the community members. In addition,  a human health risk assessment was performed based on the analytical results and dietary intake data.

The results showed that fish harvested from Primrose Lake had low levels of chemical contaminants and was safe to eat in any quantity. The measured concentrations of various chemicals in water samples were below the drinking water guidelines values. Findings of the human health risk assessment indicated that there was a low potential for adverse health effects from the consumption of fish caught from Primrose Lake.