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187.610.81 Public Health Toxicology

Environmental Health and Engineering
2nd term
4 credits
Academic Year:
2017 - 2018
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Yager, James
Course Instructors:

Introduction to Online Learning; a background in organic chemistry and/or biochemistry and cell biology useful.


Virtually each day you can read in the paper, online and/or through social media about the effects of various chemicals in the environment and the diet on human health. However, it is often very difficult to critically evaluate the actual potential significance of this information. In this course, you will learn the basic principles that govern how chemicals interact with cells and organisms to cause adverse effects. This will provide you with new tools to help interpret the barrage of information you are exposed to and should be helpful as you continue to pursue your academic and then professional careers.

Examines basic concepts of toxicology as they apply to the effects of environmental agents present in air, water and food (e.g. chemicals, metals) on public health. Discusses the distribution, cellular uptake, metabolism, and elimination of toxic agents, as well as the fundamental principles governing the interaction of foreign chemicals with biological systems. Considers how population data on disease incidence (various cancers, lung, kidney, heart, etc.) can suggest possible etiologies and how genetic and epigenetic factors can influence risk for adverse health effects. Focuses on the application of hoe these concepts provide evidence relevant to the understanding and prevention of morbidity and mortality resulting from environmental exposures to toxic substances through presentation of case studies.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic toxicokinetic principles that determine how various classes of environmentally important chemicals interact with molecules in cells, tissues and organs to cause adverse effects
  2. Describe the basic toxicodynamic processes that can alter normal cell, tissue and organ functions resulting in adverse effects
  3. Explain the importance of dose-response in determining the adverse effects of chemicals and the different dose response models for non-carcinogens and carcinogens
  4. Provide examples of underlying genetic and social susceptibility factors that contribute to the ability of chemicals to elicit effects that contribute to human disease
  5. Explain how evidence based on quantitative assessment of local, national and global cancer incidence data contributes to identification of susceptible populations, points to possible causative factors and suggests approaches to preventive interventions
  6. Illustrate how the use of biomarkers and primary, secondary and tertiary prevention and can come together to facilitate prevention of human disease
  7. Explain the science underlying toxicity testing for the ability of chemicals to elicit adverse human health effects
  8. Explain the risk assessment process and the role of toxicity testing and human epidemiology in it
  9. Apply evidence from toxicity testing and human epidemiology studies to calculate an acceptable daily exposure (RfD)
  10. Apply the toxicological concepts to specific chemicals to which people are exposed
Methods of Assessment:

Midterm 28%
Final 28%
Quizzes 20%
Assignment 1 14%
Assignment 2 10%

Instructor Consent:

No consent required