ENVR E-159 Toxicology and Risk Assessment

"The dose makes the poison." Humans live in a world that contains a multitude of natural and human-made chemicals whose effects on human health are only beginning to be understood. Microplastics, air pollution, nanomaterials, and heavy metals—all of these compounds exist at varying concentrations in the environment and may produce adverse effects in humans. Toxicology is the scientific study and detection of poisons. Risk assessment is the analytical process of determining whether an environmental hazard may cause harm to exposed humans. This course relies on interdisciplinary knowledge from biology, chemistry, and physiology to provide an introduction to the basic principles of toxicology and human-health risk assessment. We survey how organs (liver, kidney, heart, brain, skin) interact with toxicants, the effects of toxicants on cells and gene expression, cancer and carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicological effects, and other special topics.

Note: On-campus meetings are recorded. A live stream is available at the time the class meets. Videos are available within 24 hours of the lecture.

Prerequisite: An introductory biology or chemistry course.


Steven Raymond Boomhower







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Subject Area: 

Biological Sciences in Public Health

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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2019-2020 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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