Course: Public Health Toxicology

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There are two assignments.

» Assignment 1

This assignment entails turning in a paper discussing the sources and health effects of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) in your hometown community.

  1. Begin the paper with a discussion about what hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) are and how they differ from criteria air pollutants (CAPS). Go to the Toxic Release Inventory site at EPA ( and find the data set for “hazardous air pollutants” for your hometown community. (You may have to search by county rather than zip code.) For those of you who don’t have a hometown in the United States, you can pick a community/country that you might like to live in after you graduate from JHU by referring to a WHO Web site.  
  2. Tell us the community/country you chose and the demographics of that community and make a table with the ten highest HAPs released based on total air emissions (fugitive + point sources) in the latest year for which data are available, and the total air emissions for that chemical. If your community/country has less than ten HAPs, provide a table with all the HAPs reported. Or, you can broaden the community by selecting county rather than zip code.
  3. Pick one of your “top ten” chemicals and provide a justification as to why you selected the particular HAP. The HAP you choose should be an organic compound or a metal, but NOT an inorganic compound such as HCl.
  4. Discuss the likely sources for its emission into air, its toxicokinetics includingroute(s) of human exposure, and what is known about its metabolism and its possible toxicodynamic effects, i.e. its know and/or suspected adverse human health effects.
  5. Provide a clearly labeled aerial picture (e.g. from Google Earth) of theprimary source of the HAP and information on the type of business it is and if there is any information on any violations,local or federalby that company. The IRIS (Integrated Risk Information System—viewable at data set in the EPA website is a good place for this information
  6. Finally, what RfD (Reference dose) and/or RfC (Reference concentration)has been established for exposure to your HAP and what are the major uncertainties underlying its calculation?
  7. Be sure to reference all of your sources of information and that the information is properly cited in the text and on a separate page listing the references
  8. The paper must be clearly and concisely written and free of grammatical and typographical errors 

Suggested Sources of Toxicity and Exposure Information

National Library Medicine
CDC report

Length and Format

  • The paper should be no more that 3 pages in length, exclusive of references, the table of HAPs and aerial photograph
  • The formatting should be in 12-point type, single-spaced with 1-inch margins 

With regard to the format of the references, include authors, title, year of publication, name of the publication (abbreviated journal title is fine), volume/issue and pages (the order can vary depending on the citation management system you may be using). For citation of material on the web, provide the URL, the title of the site and the date you accessed the site.
Note –Wikipedia is not an appropriate citation since the information presented in Wikipedia has not been peer reviewed.
Journal References should be formatted as follows:
Calafat, A.M., Ye, X, Silva, M.J., Kuklenyik, Z., Needham, LL. 2006. Human exposure assessment to environmental chemicals using biomonitoring. Int. J. Androl. 29: 166-171


This assignment is worth 50 points. You must complete this assignment on your own.
The paper should have the following features:
identify the community/country you choose and contain the following features:

  • A discussion of the difference between HAPs and CAPs.
  • A description of the difference between fugitive and point source emissions.
  • Description of the demographics of the community you choose.
  • A table that includes fugitive, source and total hazard pollutant levels for the latest year  information is available
  • A justification as to why you choose 1 HAP for discussion
  • Discussion of the likely emission sources of that HAP in that community
  • A clearly labeled aerial picture of the source
  • Information about the nature of the sources/facilities business, what chemicals they use, products they make etc. and any violations 
  • Discussion of all potential/likely routes of exposure
  • Discussion of the HAP youchoose should include:
  • The structure and key physiochemical properties of the HAP
  • Its toxicokinetics and known or suspected human health effects including toxicodynamic effects as much as you can
  • Discussion of the RfDs for the HAP and possible sources of uncertainty in its determination
  • Careful preparation
    • Proper citation of references in the text and in the separate reference page
    • Free of typographical errors
    • Well organized and readable

Each of the 10 features that should be present in your paper will be graded as follows:
Excellent - 50 points
Very good - 40 -49
Good - 30 -39
Fair - 20-29
Poor - 10-19
Failure to complete - 0
This assignment is worth 50 points toward the final grade.

» Assignment 2

Each day we are all exposed to environmental chemicals through our diet, personal care products we use, occupation, etc. Your assignment is to become aware of exposures that you have incurred over the past week or two.

  • Choose one chemical that you have been exposed to and then in the context of what you have learned from the Basic Principles (i.e. exposure, absorption, metabolism, etc.) and Applied Toxicology (i.e. potential for causing adverse effects, risk from exposure, biomarker of exposure, etc.) lectures
  • Write an OP/ED article on the importance of this chemical and your concerns about exposure to it with regard to potential adverse health effects it may cause


Review the OP/Ed pages of a couple of newspapers of your choice. You will notice that in an OP/Ed piece, the authors have not written a scientific article of the type found in peer reviewed journals, and typically do not provide specific citations to their sources of factual information. They may say something like, according to a 2008 report from the CDC. However, for this assignment, we want to know the sources of the factual information you are using in your OP/Ed piece. Thus, provide a numbered list of the sources of factual information you refer to in the article on a separate page. Within the text, use superscripts to refer to the specific numbered reference.
With regard to the format of the references, include authors, title, year of publication, name of the publication (abbreviated journal title is fine), volume/issue and pages (the order can vary depending on the citation management system you may be using). For citation of material on the web, provide the URL, the title of the site and the date you accessed the site.
Don’t forget to title your OP/Ed article
The article should have the following features:

  • An introduction to the chemical you selected including why it caught your attention
  • Factual information on the chemical including source(s) of exposure, why you are concerned (e.g. toxic effects/potential)
  • Your opinion/conclusions
  • Evidence that you did substantial research on the chemical selected with a minimum of 5 citations using the peer reviewed literature and/or web sites
  • Careful preparation, e.g. it must be a well written/constructed article:
    • Free of typographical error
    • Well organized and readable

Length and Format

  • The length of the article should be no more than 2 pages, exclusive of references
  • The formatting should be in 12 point type, single-spaced with 1 inch margins


You must complete this assignment on your own.
The assignment will be graded as follows:
Excellent – 30 points
Very Good – 25-29
Good – 20-24
Fair – 15-19
Poor – 10-14
Failure to complete – 0

This assignment will be worth up to 30 points toward your final grade.