TOX-30806 Environmental Toxicology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (one day)3
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. NW van den Brink
Lecturer(s)JHJ van den Berg
dr. ir. NW van den Brink
Examiner(s)dr. ir. NW van den Brink

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

TOX-20303 General Toxicology; Thesis Toxicology, Internship Toxicology.


This course gives an overview of different aspects playing a role in the challenging field of environmental toxicology. Toxicology itself already is very interdisciplinary, but environmental toxicology even adds (environmental) chemistry, earth sciences, biology of a wide range of species and ecology to this. Special attention will be paid to ethical issues such as animal use and ethical, legal, social and policy implications of research and communications, and to job perspectives for environmental toxicologists.
The course is set-up as an integration between lectures, practicals, computer sessions, videos and excursion. The book 'Principles of Ecotoxicology' is used to develop a basis for the rest of the subjects in the course. About half of the lectures will focus on a variety of timely additional issues. In the practical part of the course you will study the toxic properties of 1 specific toxicant yourself. Applying a set of modern in vitro assays you will address the mutagenicity, cytotoxicity, estrogenicity and general toxicity of the compound. In addition you will perform a risk assessment of the compound involving toxic evaluation of literature data, combined with your own experimental results. This will be presented both orally as well as in a small report. The course will contain a dedicated risk assessment module for students marine sciences.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
1. summarise the most relevant terms, principles and methods in environmental toxicology;
2. distinguish the main sources and types of environmental pollutants and assess their potential environmental fate;
3. evaluate the characteristics of compounds, organisms and ecosystem for their consequences for environmental fate and effect propagation:
4. design and execute toxicological dose-response experiments in a comprehensive way and analyse and critically discuss the results (written);
5. create an experimental approach with meaningful endpoints to assess the environmental and human risk for a topical environmental contamination case;
6. get acquainted with the different roles of the stakeholders in the risk assessment process, integrating the knowledge and expertise gained in the course in a computer simulation case study;
7. give due consideration to the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of environmental toxicological research, uncertainties and communication.


Lectures and the excursion will provide detailed information on the relevant topics of the course (learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3). An intensive practical will enable to the students to acquire hands-on experience in designing, performing and analysing experimental dose-response studies (learning outcome 4 and 5). A group assignment will focus on a case study based on a computer simulation model (learning outcome 6 and 7).
Lectures and excursion will be assessed at the individual level by the exam. Practical will be assessed by the written report and an oral presentation, group wise (2-3 persons per group). The case simulation (4 persons) will be performed in different and will be assessed by an poster presentation and a pitch presentation.


Assessment will be based on three outcomes.
- exam: in this exam the theoretical base of environmental toxicology will be assessed, using multiple choice questions (60%);
- practical skills: this will be tested with a written report and a group presentation. This will also include work attitude (20%);
- case simulation: the students will work on a group assignments dealing with a case study. Students will be evaluated by their (joint) poster and pitch presentation. (20%).


Walker, C.H.; Sibly, R.M.; Hopkin, S.P.; Peakall, D.B. (2006). Principles of Ecotoxicology. Taylos & Francis Group, LLC. 3rd ed. 344p.
ISBN 0-8493-3635-5.

Compulsory for: BESEnvironmental SciencesBScB: Environmental Quality and Systems Analysis5MO
Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScG: Marine Biology5MO
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc5MO
MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMScB: Marine Resources and Ecology5MO