Course: Environmental Health

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Course Description

Examines health issues, scientific understanding of causes, and possible future approaches to control of the major environmental health problems in industrialized and developing countries. Topics include how the body reacts to environmental pollutants; physical, chemical, and biological agents of environmental contamination; vectors for dissemination (air, water, soil); solid and hazardous waste; susceptible populations; biomarkers and risk analysis; the scientific basis for policy decisions; and emerging global environmental health problems.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define the major sources and types of environmental agents .
  • Discuss the transport and fate of these agents in the environment.
  • Identify the carriers or vectors that promote the transfer of these agents from the environment to the human.
  • Describe how these agents interact with biological systems, and the mechanisms by which they exert adverse health effects.
  • Explain and use models for prediction of the magnitude of adverse effects in biological systems.
  • Identify and define the steps in the risk-assessment and risk-management processes.
  • Describe the steps in the regulatory process�in terms of risk assessment and risk management�and identify current legislation and regulation regarding environmental issues.
  • Identify significant gaps in the current knowledge base concerning the health effects of environmental agents and identify areas of uncertainty in the risk-assessment process.


There is no formal textbook for the course; for students interested in broad coverage, the following basic texts are recommended as additional resources:

Blumenthal, D. S., and Ruttenber, A. J. (1995). Introduction to environmental health. Second Edition. New York: Springer.

Lippmann, M. (Ed.). (1992). Environmental toxicants: Human exposures and their health effects. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Moeller, D. W. (1997). Environmental health (Revised ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Moore, G. S. (1999). Living with the earth: Concepts in environmental health science. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers.

Nadakavukaren, A. (2000). Our global environment: A health perspective (5th ed.) Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, Inc.

Philp, R. B. (1995). Environmental hazards and human health. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers.

Yassi, A., Kjellstrom, T., de Kok, T., Guidotti, T. L. (2001). Basic environmental health. New York: Oxford University Press.

Course Topics

  • Human impact on the environment
  • Environment-human interaction
  • Environmental impact on humans
  • Exposure, dose, response
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Environmental carcinogenesis
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Indoor and outdoor air pollution
  • Environmental health economics and policy
  • Occupational health
  • Food- and water-borne disease
  • Municipal, industrial, and hazardous waste
  • Environmental justice and policy
  • Risk communication