TOX-30806 Environmental Toxicology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical intensively supervised36
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. AJ Murk
JHJ van den Berg
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. AJ Murk
JHJ van den Berg
prof. dr. ir. JE Kammenga
Examiner(s)prof. dr. AJ Murk

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

General Toxicology course (TOX-20303), Thesis Toxicology, Internship Toxicology, Extended essay 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. Therefore it is not possible to go deep into details. Mechanisms of toxic action, for example, will not be a dominant aspect of this course. 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, acetylcholine esterase-inhibiting potency 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:

By the end of the course students are able to:
- demonstrate insight into basic principles of environmental toxicology including the 'human-wildlife connection' by explaining these principles in writing;
- describe the different origins, sources and types of environmental pollutants;
- explain the consequences of substance and ecosystem characteristics for the dispersal of these substances in the environment, and their uptake by organisms (including humans);
- demonstrate awareness of the great differences between the many possible biological endpoints in environmental toxicology, and to understand and explain the pro's and contra's of using these parameters;
- explain the relatively important role of indirect and/or subtle chronic effects in ecosystems compared to the relatively low importance of acute toxicity;
- understand the many aspects playing a role in environmental toxicological research and the consequences for a rational choice of toxicological research methods;
- demonstrate awareness of the enormous uncertainties that policy makers are dealing with, and explain how they use the results of toxicological research for risk assessment;
- give due consideration to the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of environmental toxicological research and communications.


Lectures, practicals, computer modelling, excursion, risk assessment for a specific compound, presenting results, studying the book, discussing videos. The different activities are closely related to each other.


Electronic examination plus report.


Principles of Ecotoxicology. Walker, Hopkin, Sibly and Peakall, 3rd edition (2006), ISBN 0-8493-3635-X.

Compulsory for: BESEnvironmental SciencesBScB: Environmental Quality and Systems Analysis5AF
Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScA: Cell Biology5AF
MHWHydrology and Water QualityMScC: Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management5AF
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc5AF
MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMScB: Marine Resources and Ecology5AF