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NII announces the creation of Environment@NII program to host environmental and health research

Updated: Mar 15

Celebrating World Nuclear Energy Day with world-class research

On the occasion of World Nuclear Day, the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) has launched a program to promote its initial environmental and health research projects, a major focus of its work to help usher in a new era in energy.


Environment@NII will be home to NII’s projects assessing the impact of energy generation on human health and the environment. Its initial projects, funded by approximately $1 million from Bruce Power, cover issues ranging from the impact of temperature on lake fish species to measuring the effects of extremely low levels of radiation on the lens of the eye.


Among the projects that are currently being funded:

  • A joint research team out of McMaster University and the University of Regina is investigating the effects water temperature has on Lake Whitefish populations.

  • Researchers at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) are exploring the development of cataracts following exposure to ionizing radiation.

  • Researchers at McMaster University are measuring the properties of radiation to which astronauts are exposed while performing spacewalks in low-Earth orbit.

“Through these exciting research projects, Bruce Power can harness opportunities to drive nuclear innovation forward for our operations, our community, and for the nuclear industry as a whole,” said Danielle La Croix, Chair of the Bruce Power Research Steering Committee that oversees the company’s research projects at NII.

In one ongoing study involving lab mice, medical scientists Dr. T.C. Tai and Dr. Simon Lees of NOSM have found that exposure to fairly high doses of radiation had no significant effect on the health of a fetus, nor on the later health of the mice. As they aged, the mice showed no signs of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome or mental health issues.


Dr. Tai and Dr. Lees’ research is critical to assessing the risk of radiation exposure for people exposed to higher-than-average radiation levels, like healthcare workers, nuclear plant workers, airplane crews and astronauts.


“We know that adult health begins in the womb and that conditions both inside the womb and external effects on the mother during pregnancy can ‘program’ the fetus to develop diseases later in adult life,” said Dr. Tai.


Read on about this research at nii.ca/environment-at-nii.