Organic Chemistry Group

Organic Chemistry at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography

The Fisheries Act and the Oceans Act give DFO responsibility for understanding and managing the impacts of chemical pollution on the marine environment and its fisheries resources. Knowledge is needed for integrated coastal zone management and the establishment and enforcement of marine ecosystem health and marine environmental quality guidelines. Chemical knowledge is critical to efforts to protect fish habitat, manage the "no net loss" provisions of the Fisheries Act and develop a thriving, sustainable marine aquaculture industry. In order to protect the environment for future generations, we need to pay attention to the chemistry of contaminants.

Chemical investigations performed by our group address questions such as: How much chemical(s) is present? Where is it coming from? Where is it going? How is it transported? How long has it been there? How will it react? What biological effects does it have? How does its concentration compare to that in another location, species, year? The goals of our contaminants research are: to assess the present and past quality of the marine environment; to predict future changes based on present contamination rates; to identify biological effects and assess potential remediation measures.

Group Description

Dr. Jocelyne Hellou completed her BSc at the University of Montreal, then her Masters and PhD in Chemical Oceanography at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the field of Marine Natural Products. She began working with the Department´s Newfoundland Region in 1986, within the Environmental Sciences Division, Toxicology Section, and has been a member of the Marine Environmental Sciences Division (MESD), in the Maritimes Region/Région des Maritimes, since 1997. She heads research focused on recognised priority pollutants and less well known contaminants, in many environmental compartments (biotic and abiotic). She is adjunct professor in the Departments of Oceanography and Chemistry at Dalhouise University. The team conducts laboratory and field investigations to determine the presence of contaminants in sediments or biota; availability to different species, in terms of dose and time response; reactivity within animals or degradation in sediments; correlation between fate and biological effects. Our expertise covers chemicals such as PAHs, PCBs, DDTs, alkanes, terpanes, hopanes, nitrogen and sulfur containig aromatics. Animals previously studied in the field or laboratory, include seals, many species of finfish, e.g. cod, flounder, trout, herring, capelin, as well as invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, periwinkles and amphipods.


The Marine Environmental Sciences Division´s Organic Chemistry Group is located at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Enquiries and comments may be directed to staff below.


Dr. Jocelyne Hellou
Research Scientist
Marine Environmental Sciences Division
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
1 Challenger Drive
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 4A2
Tel: (902) 426-7451
Fax: (902) 426-6695


Collaborators from outside the Marine Environmental Sciences Division and students are listed in italics.

Refereed publications since 1995

Hellou, J, Beach, DG, Leonard, J, Banoub JH. 2012. Integrating field assessments with laboratory exposures to assess ecosystem health. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. In Press

Hellou J, Ross N W, Moon T W. 2012. Glutathione, glutathione-S-transferase and glutathione conjugates, complementary markers of oxidative stress in aquatic biota. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. In Press.

Beach, G.B. and Hellou, J. 2011. Bioaccumulation and Biotransformation of 1-Hydroxypyrene by the Marine Whelk Neptunea lyrata. Int. J. Environ. Anal. Chem. 91:1227-1243

Hellou, J. and Gagne, F. 2011. Integrated impact assessment of mussels health. Chapter of an electronic book entitled "Mussels: Anatomy, Habitat and Environmental Impact", Frank Columbus, Editor, Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-61761-763-8, Lauren E McGevin Editor, Nova Publishers.

Hellou, J. 2011. Behavioural ecotoxicology, an "early warning" signal to assess environmental quality. Environ. Sci. Poll. Res. 18: 1-11.

Hellou J, Beach DG, Erskine S, Marklevitz SA, Saunders L. 2010. Balanced fates of pyrene and 1-hydroxypyrene in snails, Ilyanassa obsoleta, exposed to spiked sediments. Int. J Polycyclic Arom Compounds. 30:75-90.

Erskine, S., Beach, D. G., Rouleau, C., Hellou J. 2010. Fate and distribution of pyrene in Ilyanassa obsoleta exposed through the diet. Inv Surv J. 7:67-78.

Beach, D.G., Quilliam, M.A., Rouleau, C., Croll, R.P. and Hellou, J. 2010. Bioaccumulation and Biotransformation of Pyrene and 1-Hydroxypyrene by the Marine Whelk Buccinum undatum. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 29: 779-788.

Hellou, J. 2009. Gulf of Maine ESIP website, November 2009. Chemistry and behavior: a balancing act.

Beach, D.G., Quilliam, M. A. and Hellou, J. 2009. Analysis of pyrene metabolites in marine snails by liquid chromatography using fluorescence and mass spectrometry detection. J. Chromatog. B 877: 2142-2152.

Saravanabhavan, G., Helleur, R. and Hellou, J. 2009. GC–MS/MS measurement of natural and synthetic estrogens in receiving waters and mussels close to a raw sewage ocean outfall. Chemosphere 76:1156-62

Robinson, B. and Hellou, J. 2009. Biodegradation of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds in Harbour Seawater and Sediments. Sci. Tot. Environ. 407: 5713-5718.

Hellou, J., Cook, A., Lalonde, B., Walker, P., Dunphy K. and MacLeod, S. 2009. Escape and survival of Corophium volutator and Ilyanassa obsoleta exposed to freshwater and chlorotalonyl. J. Environ. Sci. Health. 44:778-790.

Hellou, J., Johnston, D., Cheeseman, K., Gronlund , A., Desnoyers, E., Leonard, J., Robertson. S. 2009. Variables affecting the bioavailability and bioaccumulation of PAH in amphipods. Int. Soc. Pol Arom Compds. 29:12-27.

Paetzold, S.C., Ross, N.W., Richards, R.C., Jones, M., Hellou, J. and Bard.S.M. 2009. Up-regulation of hepatic ABCC2, ABCG2, CYP1A1 and GST in multixenobiotic-resistant killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) from the Sydney Tar Ponds, Nova Scotia, Canada. Marine Environmental Research 68: 37-47.

Robinson, B.J., Hui, J.P.M., Soo, E.C., Hellou, J. 2009. Estrogenic compounds in seawater and sediments from Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 28:18-25.

Croll, R.P. Currie, S. and Hellou, J. 2008.. Back to Basics in Aquatic Toxicology. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. 4: 520-521.

Hellou, J., Leonard, J., Cook,A., Doe, K. Dunphy, K., Jackman, P., Tremblay, L., Mills Flemming, J. 2009. Comparison of the Partitioning of Pesticides relative to the survival and behaviour of exposed amphipods. Ecotoxicology. 18:27-33.

Marklevitz, S. A. C., Almeida, E. Flemming, J. and Hellou, J. 2008. Determinig the quality of sediments and assessing the bioavaility of contaminants. Part 2. Behavioural response of Ilyanassa obsoleta towards contaminated harbour sediments. J. Soils and Sediments. 8: 92-97.

Marklevitz, S. A. C., Almeida, E., Flemming, J. and Hellou, J. 2008. Determinig the quality of sediments and assessing the bioavaility of contaminants. Part 1. Variables affecting the behavioural response of Ilyanassa obsoleta towards contaminated harbour sediments. J. Soils and Sediments. 8: 86-91.

Gagne,F., Burgeot, T.; Hellou, J.; St-Jean, S.;Farcy, E.; Blaise, C. 2008. Spatial variations in biomarkers of Mytilus edulis mussels at four polluted regions spanning the Northern Hemisphere. Env. Res. 107: 201-217.

Yeats, P., Gagne, F and Hellou, J. 2008. Body Burden of Contaminants and Biological Effects in Mussels: An Integrated Approach. Env. Int. 34:254-264.

Hellou, J., Cheeseman, K., Desnoyers, E., Johnston, D., Jouvenelle, ML, Leonard, J., Robertson S and Walker, P. 2008. A non-lethal chemically based approach to investigate the quality of harbour sediments. Sci. Tot. Env. 389: 178-187.

Hellou, J., Fermaut, M., Leonard, J, Li, W. 2006. Defining the bioaccumulation of PAC in mussels: considering time, distance and effects. Int. J. Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds 26:1-7.

Hellou, J., Collier, T. and Ariese, F. 2005. Monitoring for PAH exposure in finfish: concentrations in tissues and biotransformation. Mar. Poll. Bull. 52: 433-441.

Hellou, J., Cheeseman, K., Jouvenelle, MJ and Sarah Robertson. 2005. Behavioural response of Corophium volutator relative to experimental conditions, physical and chemical disturbances. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 24: 3061-3068.

Hellou, J., Steller, S., Burridge, L. and Haya, K. 2005. Presence and distribution of PAH, PCB and DDE in feed and sediments under salmon aquaculture cages in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater ecosystems. 15: 349-365.

Gagne, F., Blaise, C., Hellou, J. 2004. Endocrine disruption and health effects of caged mussels, Eliptio complanata, placed downstream from a primar-treated municipal effluent plume for 1 year. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 138C: 33-44.

Hellou J. and Leonard, J. 2004. PAH bioaccumulation and biotransformation products in trout exposed through food pellets. Int. J. Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds. 24: 697-712.

Hellou, J., Steller, S, Langille, M., Leonard, J., and Tremblay, D. 2004. Partitioning of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons between water and particles and bioaccumulation in mussels: a harbour case. Mar. Environ. Res. 59: 101-117.

Hellou, J, Yeats, P., Steller, S. and Gagne, F. 2003. Chemical contaminants and biological indicators of mussel health during gametogenesis. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 22: 2080-2087.

Stark, A., Abrajano, T. Jr, Hellou, J. and Smith, J. 2003. Molecular and Isotopic characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: distribution and source at the international segment of the St. Lawrence river. Org. Geochem. 34: 225-234.

Hellou J and Law, RJ. 2003. Stress response of wild mussels, Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus as an indicator of ecosystem health. Env. Poll. 126: 407-416.

Ricking, M., Schwarzbauer, J. Hellou, J., Svenson, A., Zitko V. 2003. Polycyclic aromatic musk compounds in waste water treatment plant effluents of Canda and Sweden - first results. Mar. Poll. Bull. 46: 410-417.

Hellou, J., Steller, S., Leonard, J. and Albaiges, J. 2002. Alkanes, terpanes and aromatic hydrocarbons in surficial sediments of Halifax Harbour. Int. J. of Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds. 22: 631-642.

King, T.L., Yeats, P., Hellou, J. and Niven, S. 2002. Tracing the source of 3,3'-dichlorobiphenyl found in samples collected in and around Halifax harbour. Mar. Poll. Bull. 44: 590-596.

Hellou, J., King, T.L., Steller, S. and Yeats, P. 2002. Trends in the distribution of PCBs compared to PACs in sediments and mussels of Halifax Harbour. Wat. Qual. Res. J. Canada. 37: 413-428.

Hellou, Leonard and Antsey. 2002. Dietary exposure of finfish to aromatic contaminants and tissue distribution. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. Final 42: 470-476.

Meade, J., Hellou, J. and Pattel, T. 2002. Aerobic co-metabolism of sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen heterocycles by three marine bacterial consortia. J. Basic Microbiol. 42: 19-36.

Hellou, J., Steller, S., Zitko, V., Leonard, J., King, T., Milligan, T. and P. Yeats. 2002. Distribution of PACs in surficial sediments and bioavailability to mussels, Mytilus edulis, of Halifax harbour. Mar. Environ. Res. 53: 327-356.

Leonard, J. and Hellou, J. 2001. Separation and characterization of gall bladder bile metabolites from speckled trout, Salvinus fontinalis, exposed to individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 20: 618-623.

Hellou, J., King T. and Willis, D. 2000. Seasonal and geographical distribution of PAHs in mussels, Mytilus edulis, collected from an urban harbour. Int. J. Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds. 20: 21-38.

Yeats, P., Stenson, G. and Hellou J. 1999. Essential elements and priority contaminants in liver, kidney, muscle and blubber of harp seal beaters. Sci. Tot. Environ. 243/244: 157-167.

Law, R.J. and J. Hellou. 1999. Contamination of fish and shellfish following oil spill incidents. Environ. Geosc. 6: 90-98.

Gatermann R., Hellou J., Huhnerfuss H., Rimkus G. and Zitko V. 1999. Polycyclic and nitro musks in the environment: a comparison between Canadian and European aquatic biota samples. Chemosphere. 38: 3431-3441.

Hellou J., Leonard J., Meade J, Sharpe S., Banoub J, Papiernik S., Eglinton L., Whelan J. 1999. Presence and metabolism of three heteroaromatic compounds in comparison to a PAH. Int. J. Pol. Arom. Compounds. 14-15: 221-230.

Hellou J., Mackay D., Banoub J. 1998. Levels, persistence and bioavailability of organic contaminants present in marine harbour sediments impacted by raw sewage. Chemosphere, 38: 457-473.

Hellou J., Mackay D., Banoub J. 1998. Dietary and aqueous uptake of organochlorines in finfish: a case study. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 34: 280-288.

Zitko, V., Stenson G. and J. Hellou. 1998. Levels of organochlorine anf polycyclic aromatic compounds in harp seal beaters (Phoca groenlandica). Sci. Tot. Environ. 221: 11-29.

Hellou, J., D. Parsons, C. Andrews and G. Mercer. 1997. Organochlorine contaminants in the Northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, collected from the Northwest Atlantic. Mar. Environ. Res. 44: 99-113.

Hellou, J., Warren, W., Andrews, C. and Mercer, G. 1997. Long-term fate of crankcase oil in rainbow trout: time and dose-response. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 16: 1295-1303.

O´Malley, V.P., T.A. Abrajano, A. Stark, J. Hellou, L. Winsor. 1997. Tracing polycylcic aromatic hydrocarbons in the environment using 13C/12C ratios. Int. J. Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds. 9: 93-100.

Bieger, T., T.A. Abrajano and J. Hellou. 1997. Generation of biogenic hydrocarbons during a spring bloom in Newfoundland coastal waters. Org. Geochem. 26: 207-218.

Kozin, I., Gooijer, C., Velthorst N.H., Hellou, J. And V. Zitko. 1996. Isomer-specific detection of PAHs and PAH metabolites in environmental matrices by Shpol´skii luminescence spectroscopy. Chemosphere 33: 1435-1447.

Bieger, T., J. Hellou and T.A. Abrajano. 1995. Petroleum biomarkers as tracers of lubricating oils. Mar. Poll. Bull. 32:270-274.

Hellou, J. and Warren, W. 1997. Polycyclic aromatic compounds and saturated hydrocarbons in tissues of flatfish: insight on environmental exposure. Mar. Environ. Res. 43: 11-25.

O´Malley, V.P., Abrajano, T.A. and Hellou, J. 1996. Stable carbon isotopic apportionment of individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in St. John´s harbour, Newfoundland. Environ. Sci. Technol. 30: 634-639.

Hellou, J., V. Zitko, J. Friel, T. Alkanani. 1996. Distribution of elements in tissues of yellowtail flounder Pleuronectes ferruginea. Sci Tot. Environ. 181: 137-146.

Hellou, J. 1996. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in marine mammals, finfish and mammals. In: N Beyer and G Heinz, Eds. Interpreting concentrations of environmental contaminants in wildlife tissues. SETAC Special Publication, Pergamon Press. 229-250.

Payne, J.F., L.L. Fancey, J. Hellou, M.J. King, G.L. Fletcher. 1995. Aliphatic hydrocarbons in sediments: a chronic toxicity study with flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) exposed to oil well drill cuttings. Can J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 52: 2724-2735.

Hellou, J., G. Mercer and L.L. Fancey. 1995. Organochlorines in inshore versus offshore yellowtail flounder (Pseudiopleuronectes ferruginea): the effect of a small urban population on the environement. Int. J. Environ. Anal. Chem. 61: 275-284.

Hellou, J., Mackay, D. and Fowler, B.. 1995. Bioconcentration of PAC from sediments to muscle of finfish. Environ. Sci. Technol. 29: 2555-2560.

Hellou, J., W. G. Warren and G. Mercer. 1995. Organochlorine contaminants in pleuronectides: comparison between three tissues of three species inhabiting the Northwest Atlantic. Arch. Environ. Contam Toxicol. 29: 302-308.