INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Carolyn Bentivegna

Telephone: 275-2113

McNulty Hall Room #208

OFFICE HOURS: T, R 10-12 or by appointment 

LECTURES: MWF 9-9:50 am, CH 64

TEXTBOOK: Introduction to Environmental Toxicology: Impacts of Chemicals Upon Ecological Systems

Wayne G. Landis and Ming-Ho Yu, Lewis Publishers, 1995


The purpose of this course is to give a good overview of environmental toxicology. The emphasis will be on ecological impact as oppose to affects on humans. It will cover important principles that govern why certain substances are environmental hazards. It will also cover basic toxicology allowing student to understand why substances are toxic and how toxicity is measured in the laboratory and field. Specific substances relevant to this field of study will be discussed such as acid rain, ozone, organic nutrients, pesticides, metals, PCBs, and petroleum.

1/22 framework of environmental toxicology Chp. 1+2
1/24 impacts on ecosystems Chp. 2
1/27 air pollution (smog, ozone) Chp. 7
1/29 air pollution (acid rain) HO (handout)
1/31 water pollution (DDT, mercury) HO
2/3 water pollution (nutrients) HO
2/5 water pollution  
2/7 soil pollution (metals, aromatics) HO
2/10 soil pollution (remediation) Chp. 8
2/12 Exam I  
2/14 principles of toxicology

1st homework handed out

Chp. 3
2/17 (Mon) President's Day, no classes    
2/18 (Tues) principles of toxicology HO
2/19 absorption, distribution, elimination Chp. 5
2/21 absorption, distribution, elimination

homework #1 due

2/24 biotransformation Chp. 8
2/26 biotransformation  
2/28 general mechanism of action Chp. 5
3/3 general mechanism of action  
3/5 modifying factors (environment) Chp. 6
3/7 modifying factors (biotic)  
3/10 Exam II  
3/12 toxicity testing Chp. 4
3/14 toxicity testing  
3/17 microcosms/mesocosms  
3/19 biomarkers of toxicity (molecular) Chp. 9
3/21 biomarkers of toxicity (physiological/behavioral)  
3/24 to 3/31 SPRING BREAK    
4/2 environmental sampling  
4/4 Field Trip!! 4/4 or 4/5 homework #2 handed out  
4/7 field testing  
4/9 risk assessment Chp. 10
4/11 risk assessment

homework #2 due

4/14 Exam III  
4/16 organic nutrients HO
4/18 heavy metals (lead) HO
4/21 heavy metals (cadmium, mercury)  
4/23 chlorinated aromatics (2,4-D, dioxin)

paper due

4/25 chlorinated aromatics (PCBs)  
4/28 carcinogenicity/mutagenicity HO
4/30 asbestos HO
5/2 ionizing radiation (radon) HO
5/5 petroleum HO
5/7 petroleum HO

Exam IV (scheduled during final exams, to be announced)


The course grade will be based on four exams, two homework assignments, one paper, and one article presented to the class. Point distribution will be as follows:

Assignment Points

Total points


Exam I 100 points

500-450 (100-90%)


Exam II 100 points

449-425 (89-85%)


Exam III 100 points

424-400 (84-80%)


Exam IV 100 points

399-375 (79-75%)


paper 50 points

374-340 (74-68%)


homework1 10 points

339-300 (67-60%)


homework2 10 points

299-275 (59-55%)


article 10 points

274-0 (54-0%)


news group 20 points

Make-up exams will only be given if I am contacted ahead of the time and provided with a doctors note when appropriate. Assignments must be handed in on their due date or sooner. One grade will be subtracted for every day they are late. Plagiarism or cheating on an exam will result in zero credit for that assignment. Exams are not cumulative.


Design a microcosm to study the distribution, uptake, and effect of the pollutant of you choice. The microcosm may be terrestrial or aquatic and should contain three or more organisms. Describe how the pollutant might distribute in the microcosm. Explain how the organisms would take up the pollutant and why you chose these particular organisms to study. Explain how you would measure the effect of the chemical and why you chose that particular method. The paper should be no longer than 6 typed, double-space pages (not including figures) and referenced.

Homework1 & 2

Both homework assignments involve data analyses. One requires using standard methods to calculate a LC50 from toxicity tests. In the second, field data is used to calculate diversity indexes which are then used to evaluate stream health.

Article Presentation

Once during the semester you will give an oral presentation to the class on an article from a journal or scientific magazine. Sources of articles could be the New York Times Science Section, Discovery, Scientific American, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, etc. The articles should be more indepth than those just for the nonscientific community and be relevant to current class lectures, when possible. Your job is to summarize the article and correlate it to class lectures. Be prepared to answer relevant questions. The presentation should be no longer than 10 minutes. Provide a copy of the article.

You are responsible for signing up to present the article. Only two or three articles will be presented between each exam- first come, first serve. Do not wait until the last exam, there may be no more room! Sign-up sheets are outside my office.

 News Group

A news group will be set up for this course on the Seton Hall fileserver. I will provide articles in class for discussion. You are to connect to the server and participate in generating and answering questions for your fellow students to respond to. The idea is to reinforce what you have learned in class and make you think about current problems in environmental toxicology. You will be graded on participation. Two articles per exam period will be provided. You should participate at least twice per article, hopefully more! Computers are available in the McNulty, room 206.

I am happy to help you with this course. Please, do not hesitiate to contact me if you need help.