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Minor in Environmental Toxicology

Undergraduate environmental toxicologyThe Environmental and Molecular Toxicology program has established an undergraduate minor in Environmental Toxicology that is available to all baccalaureate degree students at North Carolina State University. The new minor was approved in February of 2003.

Given the importance and high level of interest in protecting human and environmental health, environmental toxicology is a contemporary field of study that will be of great interest to many undergraduate students. This program also will provide undergraduates with exposure to two of the University’s major academic thrusts: Genomic Sciences and Environmental Sciences. The interdisciplinary and applied nature of environmental toxicology interfaces with virtually all academic programs within the College of Science (COS).

Environmental toxicology and chemistry are inseparable disciplines, two sides of the same coin that form the basis of our understanding of the sources, fate, and effects of chemicals in the environment. The subjects are based on principles often poorly understood, or misunderstood, even by some of those who must apply them. People who are responsible for investigating, assessing, and solving these problems, and even those who are just interested in these problems, need to share a common base of fundamentals and their applications. That is what this minor intends to provide. It will be a rigorous course of study designed for science and engineering majors.

Successful completion of this course of study will allow students to:

  1. Understand many of the fundamental principles of chemistry and toxicology that are essential to understanding the environmental toxicology and chemistry issues of today.
  2. Develop knowledge based on a series of inter-related scientific principles and understand how and why processes and events occur.
  3. Connect and utilize these scientific principles to investigate environmental problems, quantitatively predict and model chemical exposure and effect, assess risk, and investigate environmental problems and track them back to possible causes. This will require the ability to follow a chemical from its source, its modification in the environment, its exposure to humans and other biota, and how it elicits adverse effects.
  4. Appreciate and conceptualize the complexity of these issues and evaluate the variability and uncertainty in environmental toxicology and chemistry assessments.
  5. Learn about the scientific method, hypothesis testing, the difference between statistical association and causation, the importance of underlying assumptions and mechanisms, and extrapolation (e.g., through time, space, and level of biological organization).
  6. Be exposed to concepts in environmental litigation and risk assessment.

Catalog Description

The Environmental and Molecular Toxicology program offers an undergraduate minor in Environmental Toxicology that is available to all baccalaureate degree students at North Carolina State University. The minor is intended to provide undergraduate students with an understanding of how chemicals and physical agents can adversely affect biological systems and the environment, including the mechanisms of chemically induced toxicity, the fate and effects of chemicals in the environment, and the evaluation of chemical hazards and risks. The minor is especially appropriate for (but not limited to) students majoring in the biological or agricultural sciences, physical sciences or science education.

List of Courses Constituting the Minor

The Environmental Toxicology Minor will require 15 credit hours. Nine credit hours will be in required courses and the remaining six hours in electives. The courses are distributed as follows:

Required Courses (9 credit hours) Credit Hours
TOX 401 Principles of Toxicology (F) 4
TOX 415 Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (S) 4
ET 490 Senior Seminar in Environmental Technology (S) 1
MB 490 Senior Seminar in Microbiology (F, S) 1
Elective Courses (6 credit hours)
TOX 201 Poisons, People and the Environment (F, S) 3
(Note: This course may NOT be used as an elective if it is taken after, or concurrently with, TOX 401 or TOX 415)
TOX 492 External Learning Experience (F, S, Sum) 1-3
TOX 495 Special Topics in Toxicology (F, S) 1-3
TOX 499 Undergraduate Research in Toxicology (F, S, Sum) 1-3
BCH 451 Principles of Biochemistry (F, S, Sum) 3
BO (ZO) 360 Introduction to Ecology (S, Sum) 3
CE 280 Principles of Environmental Engineering (F) 3
CH 315 Quantitative Analysis (F, S, Sum) 4
CH (MEA) 323 Earth System Chemistry (S) 3
ET 310 Environmental Monitoring and Analysis 3
ES 100 Introduction to Environmental Science 3
FS (MB) 405 Food Microbiology (F) 3
FW (ZO) 353 Wildlife Management (F) 3
GN 411 Principles of Genetics (F, S, Sum) 4
NTR (ANS) 419 Human Nutrition in Health and Disease (F) 3
ST 311 Introduction to Statistics (F, S, Sum) 3
TC (TAM) 401 Environmental Aspects of the Textile Industry (S) 3
ZO 421 Principles of Physiology (F, S, Sum) 3
ET 201 (202, 301, 302, 401) Environmental Technology Laboratory 1
ET (MEA) 320 Fundamentals of Air Pollution 4
ET 450 Environmental Regulation 3
If elected, the following must involve a topic in toxicology:
ALS 498 Honors Research (F, S, Sum) 1-3
ALS 499 Honors Research (F, S, Sum) 1-3

Other courses may qualify if they contain significant content related to toxicology; consent of the Toxicology Undergraduate Program Coordinator is required. A grade of C- or better is required for all courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements.