Toxicity is determined by the following:
- Observing people during normal use or accidental exposure.
- Experimental studies using animals.
- Cellular studies.
- Toxins can be divided into categories based on their potential harm to humans.
- Carcinogens are substances known to cause cancer.
- Endocrine disruptors are agents that bind with hormones, blocking their normal function.
- Teratogens are agents that cause malformation of a fetus through the mother.
- Toxicologists are scientists who study toxins. They determine whether the toxins have any harmful effects on the environment or the human body. Toxicologists often describe toxins as either hazardous or poisonous. Hazardous substances are substances having the capacity to do harm. Poisonous substances are able to kill, injure, or impair living things with a small dose.
After determining that a substance is toxic, toxicologists and other scientists create risk assessment models. Risk assessment involves considering four steps:
- Identification of the hazard and its potential health effects.
- Dose-response (amount of pollutant to which a person is exposed).
- Mode of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, absorption, and injection).
- Determination of overall risk based on dose response and exposure.
- Cost-benefit analysis can be used to determine if a risk should be taken, and what strategies can be used to regulate and control the risk. In some cases, after a risk assessment, a risk can be determined as unavoidable.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a government agency created in 1972 to address some products that have presented an unreasonable risk of injury. The CPSC requires safety labels, recalls hazardous products, and enforces bans upon them.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2014), more than 400 Americans die each day due to injuries caused by accidents. In fact, most people experience a significant injury at least once in their lifetime (Hilgenkamp, 2006). Although, not all accidents can be avoided; understanding where the risks are and taking steps to avoid them is important to protecting our health.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in individuals between 1 and 44 years of age (CDC, 2006). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is charged with increasing safety on the roads by writing and enforcing safety laws. Seat belts, safety seats for children, airbags, and anti-lock brakes are just some of the devices that can make traveling in a motor vehicle safer. We can reduce our risk of a motor vehicle accident by following traffic laws, and always considering what is prudent based on the driving conditions.
Accidents can also occur when we are in our homes. Common occurrences involve falls, poisonings, accidental shootings, fires, and power equipment. Young children are particularly at risk, which is why child-proofing a home is very important. Cabinets with toxic materials, medicines, and guns should be locked. Matches and lighters should be kept in a safe place.
Concerns of hazards in the workplace led to the development of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s mission is to prevent injuries and protect the health of United States workers by ensuring safe and healthful places to work (United States Department of Labor, n.d.). The major areas of concern in the workplace are air contaminants (dust, fibers, gases, and vapors), and physical (temperature, noise, and radiation), biological (pathogens), and chemical (inhaled, absorbed, ingested, or injected) issues.
CDC. (2006). Deaths: Preliminary data for 2004. National Vital Statistics Reports, 54(19).
Hilgenkamp, K. (2006). Environmental health: Ecological perspectives. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Healthy people.gov. Retrieved from http://healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx
United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). About OSHA. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/about.html
Demonstration of Proficiency
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:
- Competency 2: Analyze the impact of contaminants in the environment to human health.
- Analyze the impact of a toxic substance on human health.
- Analyze possible sources of exposure to a toxic substance.
- Analyze what happens when a toxin enters the environment.
- Analyze the persistency of a specific toxic substance.
- Analyze government recommendations for a specific toxic substance.
- Competency 4: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
- Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.
Choose a toxin to research. Note: The CDC website and other materials listed in Resources: Toxins should provide you with a starting point in selecting a toxin. Then, select at least two peer-reviewed articles about your chosen toxin to read carefully.
The purpose of this assessment is for you to learn how to summarize and critically evaluate a scientific paper on environmental toxins.
Select at least two peer-reviewed articles about your chosen toxin to read carefully. Craft a 3–4-page analysis of the toxin’s impact on human health based on what you have learned. Address the following in your analysis:
- Highlight the main points presented in the articles you read. What message are the authors trying to convey about that toxin?
- Describe the possible sources of human exposure to this toxin and analyze their risk.
- Analyze what happens when this toxin enters the environment.
- Analyze the persistency of this toxin.
- Analyze the federal government’s recommendations for protecting human health from this toxin.
- Describe what other sources of information say about these toxins.
- Identify any discrepancies you found in your research.
- If the authors have different perspectives, how might these differing views affect environmental health?
- Your analysis should follow a logical structure and be evidence based. Use the MEAL Plan to help guide the organization of your analysis:
- Main Idea: Present the main point or idea that you are making about the environmental toxin you studied.
- Evidence: What does the research say? Support your statements with evidence from your research and personal experience.
- Analysis: Summarize main ideas from articles related to the points outlined for this assessment. Compare and contrast the ideas of the authors of the two articles. Identify those ideas and facts that relate directly or indirectly to your main point. Make explicit links between source articles, your personal experience, and your current analysis.
- Link: Integrate and combine information from the source articles and your personal experience to your main point or idea.
- Additional Requirements
Use the APA Paper Template (linked in Resources: Toxins) to format your analysis.
- Written Communication: Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
- Length: This analysis should be 3–4 pages in content length. Include a separate title page and a separate references page.
- Font and Font Size: Times New Roman, 12-point, double-spaced. Use Microsoft Word.
- APA Formatting: Resources and in-text citations should be formatted according to the current APA style and formatting.
- Number of Resources: You are required to cite a minimum of 2 scholarly resources. You may conduct independent research for resources and references to support your analysis. Provide a reference list and in-text citations for all your resources, using APA format. You may cite texts and authors from the Resources.
- The purpose of this assessment is for you to learn how to summarize and critically evaluate a scientific paper on environmental toxins.