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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES


The course 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.

By the end of the course, students will be able to define the major environmental agents i.e., environmental chemical, biological, and physical agents that cause adverse effects on human health) and their sources; discuss the transport and fate of these agents in the environment, and identify the carriers or vectors (air, water, soil, and food) that promote the transfer of these agents from the environment to the human; describe the toxicokinetics of these agents in the body, including the effect of route of entry (inhalation, ingestion, absorption); describe the toxicodynamics of these agents, including biotransformation and the mechanisms by which they exert adverse health effects, and the use of models for prediction of the magnitude of adverse effects; identify and define the steps in the risk assessment process, including both exposure and dose-response assessment, and the sources and magnitude of uncertainty; describe various risk management approaches, including regulatory, engineering, and behavioral/risk communication options; describe specific genetic factors (including gender- and ethnicity-related factors), physiologic factors (including age- and health status-related factors), and psychosocial factors (including SES- and social/cultural-related factors) that influence the risk of exposure and/or the likelihood of developing adverse health outcomes from exposure to environmental agents; identify techniques for improving risk assessment and risk management strategies, including consideration of: factors in the physical environment, factors in the social environment, community-based participation in both the assessment/management process and in basic environmental/public health research, and issues of environmental justice/equity.