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Ch 17: Environmental Risk Analysis

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons, and learn about risk assessment and how it is used to identify and manage health risks in the environment. Take brief self-assessment quizzes to make sure you have a solid grasp of environmental risk analysis concepts.

The environment is riddled with natural and chemical dangers to our health, but never fear - risk assessment is here! In this chapter, experienced instructors define the concepts of risk and risk assessment in the context of environmental science, as well as how they are used to manage threats to our health. The lessons cover such disease-causing agents in the environment as bacteria and parasites, as well as chemical toxicants and pollutants, how these dangers are measured, and the different kinds of diseases they can cause. The instructors also discuss the related fields of environmental toxicology and epidemiology and explore such issues as children's exceptional sensitivity to toxicants. Finally, the lessons describe such management efforts as the precautionary principle and political conventions aimed at understanding and managing pollutants. Students who complete this chapter should be able to:

  • Discuss the meaning of 'risk' and 'risk assessment' as they relate to the environment and health, and define epidemiology and toxicology
  • Describe such disease-causing agents as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasitic worms in the environment, as well as strategies for containing them like monitoring public water supplies
  • Explore some of the chemistry behind risk assessment, including what happens in additive, synergistic, and antagonistic chemical interactions
  • Explain how changes in the environment can lead to the emergence and spread of diseases
  • Learn different ways that toxicants are magnified, including persistence, bioaccumulation, and biological means
  • Discover how the effects of risks are measured, including the dose-response curve for environmental pollutants and methods for determining if chemicals can cause cancer
  • Explore social challenges and solutions for environmental risk assessment, including why kids are particularly susceptible to toxicants, how the precautionary principle affects new products, and what came out of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Video Objective
Managing Potential Health Risks Through Risk Assessment Define risk and risk assessment, and learn how it helps to manage potential health threats.
Understanding Environmental Toxicology & Epidemiology Define toxicology and epidemiology.
Disease-Causing Agents in the Environment: Definition and Types Explore disease-causing agents in the environment, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasitic worms.
Monitoring Public Water Supplies: E.coli Threats Find out why public water supplies are monitored for fecal coliform bacteria, despite the fact that most strains of E.coli do not cause disease.
Emerging Diseases Linked to Environmental Change Discover the link between environmental changes and emerging diseases, such as the swine flu.
Magnification of Toxicants: Persistence, Bioaccumulation & Biological Learn to distinguish among persistence, bioaccumulation, and biological magnification of toxicants.
Mobility of Persistent Toxicants in the Environment Understand the mobility of persistent toxicants in the environment.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants Learn about the purpose of The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
The Dose-Response Curve: Determining Health Effects of Environmental Pollutants Find out how a dose-response curve is used to determine the health effects of environmental pollutants.
Assessing Chemicals for Cancer Causing Agents Get an overview of the most common method of determining whether a chemical causes cancer.
Interactions in Chemical Mixtures: Additive, Synergistic & Antagonistic Find out how to distinguish among additive, synergistic, and antagonistic interactions in chemical mixtures.
Toxicants and Children: Why Children Are More Susceptible Discover why children are particularly susceptible to toxicants.
The Precautionary Principle and New Technologies & Products Explore the precautionary principle, and learn how it relates to the introduction of new technologies or products.

13 Lessons in Chapter 17: Environmental Risk Analysis
What Is Environmental Health? Definition, Types & Sources

1. What Is Environmental Health? Definition, Types & Sources

In this video lesson, you will learn about environmental health. You will also learn about threats to environmental health and how to distinguish between different categories of environmental hazards.

Understanding & Assessing Threats to Environmental Health

2. Understanding & Assessing Threats to Environmental Health

In this lesson you will learn how threats to environmental health are assessed. You will also learn how management decisions are made based on such threats and their risks.

Environmental Toxicants: Types, Sources & Effects

3. Environmental Toxicants: Types, Sources & Effects

In this video lesson, you will identify different types of environmental toxicants. You will also learn about the harmful effects of these toxicants and how they travel from various sources.

Disease-Causing Agents in the Environment: Definition and Types

4. Disease-Causing Agents in the Environment: Definition and Types

In this video lesson, you will identify different disease-causing agents. You will also explore examples of types of disease-causing agents and their effects on human health.

Using Indicator Bacteria to Monitor Public Water Supplies

5. Using Indicator Bacteria to Monitor Public Water Supplies

In this video lesson, you will learn about indicator bacteria. You will understand how and why they are used to test for water contamination despite the fact that they are harmless and naturally occurring in human and animal systems.

Emerging Diseases Linked to Environmental Change

6. Emerging Diseases Linked to Environmental Change

In this video lesson, you learn about why some diseases are increasing on Earth due to environmental changes. You'll also see examples of different types of diseases that are responding to environmental changes and how they are becoming more prevalent.

Magnification of Toxicants: Persistence, Bioaccumulation & Biological

7. Magnification of Toxicants: Persistence, Bioaccumulation & Biological

In this lesson, you will learn about the persistence and magnification of toxicants in the environment. You will also learn about how these toxicants affect organisms as they move up the food chain.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

8. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

In this video lesson, you will learn about persistent organic pollutants and how they led to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.

The Dose-Response Curve: Determining Health Effects of Environmental Pollutants

9. The Dose-Response Curve: Determining Health Effects of Environmental Pollutants

In this video lesson, you will learn about dose-response curves and how toxicologists measure the toxicity and effects of toxicants. You will also learn about how this data is applied to human health.

Assessing Chemicals for Cancer-Causing Agents

10. Assessing Chemicals for Cancer-Causing Agents

In this video lesson, you will identify sources of cancer-causing agents. You will also learn how scientists determine which substances and chemicals cause cancer in humans.

Interactions in Chemical Mixtures: Additive, Synergistic & Antagonistic

11. Interactions in Chemical Mixtures: Additive, Synergistic & Antagonistic

Chemical reactions occur constantly within our environment and even within our own bodies. Reactions can vary depending on the chemicals that are mixed together. This lesson explores the four most common reactions and offers examples for each.

Toxicants and Children: Why Children Are More Susceptible

12. Toxicants and Children: Why Children Are More Susceptible

Despite their small size, children are more susceptible to environmental toxicants. In this video lesson, you will learn why toxicants often have greater effects on children than adults.

The Precautionary Principle and New Technologies & Products

13. The Precautionary Principle and New Technologies & Products

In this lesson, you will learn about the precautionary principle and how it applies to new technologies and products. You will also learn about how this principle is applied in different government regulations.

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