Environmental toxicology is the study of toxic properties of chemicals (natural and artificial) and their effects on human and other species and their movement and fate in the environment.
It is the branch of science concerned with the study of harmful effects of various chemical, biological and physical agents on living organisms. It is course that is controlled by departments of biological and chemical sciences.
Environmental management and toxicology programme was established to provide trained and skilled manpower into solving present and emerging global issues through monitoring and surveillance and management.
The study of environmental toxicology was developed mainly from two perspectives:
- Human survival depends upon the well-being of the other species and upon the availability of clean air, water and food.
- The detrimental effects of living organisms and ecological processes.
Environmental toxicology is therefore concerned with how environmental toxicants through their interaction with humans, animals and plants influence the health and welfare of these organisms. Toxicology uses the power of science to predict what, and how chemicals may cause harm and then shares that information to protect public health.
Prospects in studying environmental management and toxicology as a course as university levels include:
- Environmental toxicologists are either employed by public or private companies where they help with product development, product safety testing and navigating the regulatory landscape.
- They may work as researchers in research institute such as; cancer researcher, cell/molecular biologist, clinical researcher, etc.
- They would also be relevant as;
- Consultants in environmental issues
- Dental institution
- Drug/toxicant information specialists
- Forensic scientists/ toxicologists etc.
Courses offered at MSc. Level by universities in environmental management and toxicology includes:
Environmental Management and Toxicology (EMT) deals with the effects of environmental toxicants on health and the environment alongside the means and methods behind the crafting of environmental policies and laws. Environmental toxicants are agents released into the general environment that can cause adverse effects on health.
The word “health” here refers to not only human health but also the health of animals and plants. The study of environmental toxicology stems from the recognition that:
- Human survival depends upon the well-being of other species and upon the availability of clean air, water and food.
- Anthropogenic chemicals as well as naturally occurring chemicals can have detrimental effects on living organisms and ecological processes.
EMT is thus concerned with how environmental toxicants, through their interaction with humans, animals, and plants, influence the health and welfare of these organisms.
EMT professionals research the effects of chemicals on people, animals and ecosystems. They predict possible environmental hazards and assess risks and benefits associated with certain chemical compounds. They also study ways to reduce ground, air, water and food chain contamination. The work of environmental toxicologists informs public policymakers about the effects of existing and emerging chemical products.
This course is therefore designed to present the basic scientific principles of environmental management and toxicology and its relationship to health-based risk assessment and hazardous materials management.
Students of EMT are trained to be able to understand how toxins and/or pollutants affect the health of people, food-webs, and ecosystems, through the assessment of the fate, effects and risks of natural toxins and pollutants using a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates toxicology, environmental chemistry, risk assessment, and ecology.
This will avail students the requisite skills to be able to make predictions about chemical risks to the environment, people and animals, and study how to reduce chemical waste.
Students in this programme will learn to:
- Evaluate the impact of specific toxins, pollutants, and/or mixtures in the environment
- Perform laboratory and/or field studies to monitor environmental and evaluate the impacts of toxins/pollutants
- Optimize and/or develop field or laboratory methods to identify and evaluate toxic substances in biota and in the environment
- Evaluate strategies to prevent, mitigate, and/or control and manage toxic substances
- Evaluate policies and regulations used in risk analysis and risk management
Graduates from this program will be able to seek opportunities across multiple employment sectors including academic research, State and Federal Government research and policy, industry, non-governmental organizations, and private consulting and/or environmental monitoring.
Alternatively, students may continue their education by pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Environmental Toxicology or related areas (e.g., Marine Sciences, Biology, Biomedical Sciences). Industries, such as pharmaceutical and petroleum companies that produce chemical compounds, were by far the largest employers of toxicologists as of 2008.
Toxicologists may also find employment through the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency, evaluating health risks for humans and the environment. Research and consulting professionals may work with corporations in developing safer chemical compounds that adhere to federal regulations. Teaching positions may be found in undergraduate and graduate institutions with toxicology, biology or chemistry departments.