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May 17, 2022


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This course examines basic concepts of environmental toxicology, including distribution, cellular penetration, metabolic conversion, and elimination of toxic agents, as well as the fundamental laws governing the interaction of foreign chemicals with biological systems. The course also focuses on the application of these concepts to the understanding and prevention of mortality and morbidity resulting from environmental exposure to toxic substances through a case study format.


.Welcome to Public Health Toxicology. Virtually every day you can read in the paper about the effects of various chemicals in the environment and in the diet on human health. Most of the articles speak of adverse effects observed in recent scientific investigations. However, it is often very difficult to critically evaluate the real 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 and what the critical determinants are that determine whether or not an adverse effect might occur. This will provide you with new tools to help interpret the barrage of information presented to you in the lay press and should be helpful in your professional activities. We sincerely hope you enjoy this course and find the information useful. We also appreciate your input and suggestions as to how to improve the course, so please be sure to complete the course evaluation and don't hesitate to provide us with any constructive comments or suggestions you may have by e-mail or in person. Thank you.

Course Description

Students examine basic concepts of toxicology as they apply to the effects of environmental agents, e.g. chemicals, metals, on public health. We discuss the distribution, cellular penetration, metabolic conversion, and elimination of toxic agents, as well as the fundamental laws governing the interaction of foreign chemicals with biological systems. Students focus on the application of these concepts to the understanding and prevention of morbidity and mortality resulting from environmental exposures to toxic substances through a case study.

Course Objectives

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the chemical properties and the biological processes which modulate the toxicokinetics of chemical agents of public health importance
  •  Explain the significance of biotransformation reactions as a determinant of the toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic activities of chemicals
  • Describe molecular, cellular and pathophysiological responses resulting from exposure to chemical agents relevant to human health
  • Identify underlying susceptibility factors which contribute to the ability of chemicals to elicit bioeffects which contribute to human disease
  • Explain the science underlying testing for the ability of chemicals to elicit adverse human health effects
  • Put into perspective the role of toxicology in the risk assessment process
  • Discuss in-depth the toxicology of selected organs and agents


Introduction to Online Learning; a background in college biochemistry and cell biology strongly encouraged.


There is no required text. However, there are assigned readings for each lecture that are accessed through e-reserves. Excellent reference texts for those who want more detailed information are:
  • Casarett and Doull’s  Essentials of Toxicology,  8th (or earlier) edition, C.D. Klaassen and J.B. Watkins III, eds. McGraw Hill Medical, NY, 2013.
  • Principles and Methods of Toxicology. Fifth Edition. A. Wallace Hayes (ed). CRC Press, Boca Ratan, 2008. (Older editions also contain basic information that may be helpful.)

Course Requirements

There are two assignments. Specific instructions for each assignment can be found on the Assignments page. Be sure to read them! Assignment 1: Exposure to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), or air toxics, are of major concern in US communities. The goal of this assignment is for you to prepare a paper on a specific HAP in a community of your choice, its source and potential for causing an adverse health effect. 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 the 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, the risk from exposure, a 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.

Course Curriculum

    • Lecture 1: Introduction to Toxicology Principles (Trush) 01:40:00
    • Lecture 2: Toxicokinetics: Absorption, Distribution, Excretion (Trust) 01:40:00
    • Lecture 3: Toxicokinetics: Biotransformation (Trush) 01:40:00
    • Lecture 4: Toxicity Testing, Dose Response, risk Assessment (Yager) 04:10:00
    • Lecture 5: Environmental Carcinogenesis (Trush) 03:20:00
    • Lecture 6: Biomarker of exposure, Effect, and Susceptibility Factors (Trush) 03:00:00
    • Lecture 7: Approaches to Primary and Secondary Prevention in Toxicology (Trush) 04:10:00
    • Lecture 8: Hepato and Renal Toxicology (Yager) 05:50:00
    • Lecture 9: Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology (Yager) 04:10:00
    • Lecture 10: Immunotoxicology (Trush) 02:30:00
    • Lecture 11: Persistent Organic Pollutants and Dioxins (Trush) 03:00:00
    • Lecture 12: Bone Marrow Toxicology: Benezene as a Case Study (Trush) 02:30:00
    • Lecture 13: Neurotoxicology (Bressler) 02:30:00
    • Lecture 14: Metals – Mercury and Cadmium Toxicity (Culotta) 03:20:00
    • Lecture 15: Ozone: A Criteria Pollutant (Trush) 02:20:00
    • Lecture 16: Nanotoxicology (Trush) 02:20:00
    • Assignments 00:30:00

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