Share Course Ware
Engineering > Biomedical Engineering > Chemicals in the Environment: Toxicology and Publi
 Chemicals in the Environment: Toxicology and Publi  posted by  duggu   on 12/7/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
Further Reading
More Options

Sherley, James, Laura Green, and Steven Tannenbaum, 20.104J Chemicals in the Environment: Toxicology and Public Health (BE.104J), Spring 2005. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Oil floating on the River Irwell near the Manchester UK city center. (Photo courtesy of Matt Cox.)


Course Highlights

This course features lecture notes and a full set of assignments.

Course Description

This course addresses the challenges of defining a relationship between exposure to environmental chemicals and human disease. Course topics include epidemiological approaches to understanding disease causation; biostatistical methods; evaluation of human exposure to chemicals, and their internal distribution, metabolism, reactions with cellular components, and biological effects; and qualitative and quantitative health risk assessment methods used in the U.S. as bases for regulatory decision-making. Throughout the term, students consider case studies of local and national interest.



Required Texts

Salsburg, D. The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman and Company, 2001. ISBN: 0716741067.

Gordis, L. Epidemiology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 2004. ISBN: 0721603262.

Schork, M. A., and R. D. Remington. Statistics with Applications to the Biological and Health Sciences. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000. ISBN: 0130223271.

Grading Policy

Percentage contributions to the final grade are as follows:


Grading Table

Activities Percentages

Quizzes (Two, 25% each)


Homework Assignments (10-page Book Critique, 10%; 5 Problem Sets, 15%)


Team Project (Team Project Paper, 15%; Team Project Presentation, 10%)




There will be optional weekly recitation sessions offered throughout the term. However, students are strongly encouraged to attend. In addition to answering questions relating to the lecture material, homework assignments, and projects, the TA will provide background help with concepts in several areas, including epidemiology and biostatistics for the first half and elements of chemistry and biochemistry and risk analyses for the second.

Reading Assignment for "The Lady Tasting Tea"

During the first half of the term, students are required to read The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century, by David Salsburg. This book provides a historical introduction to statistical and environetics principles that will be the focus of the first half of the course. Students are expected to read the entire book. The purpose of this reading is to introduce students to the field of statistics and to prepare them for the concepts and language of uncertainty, which permeates statistical thought.

Problem Sets

Problem sets are due as noted in the lecture schedule. There will be a 20% reduction in the grade for each day that a problem set is late.


There will be two quizzes during the term. The second quiz will only cover material presented after the first quiz. Quizzes will be given in-class during the regular lecture period as noted in the schedule. Quiz #1 is open book. The format of Quiz #2 will be determined by instructors. There is no final examination.

Team Project

Students will be grouped into teams of 3-4 students to work jointly on a project to investigate an environmental agent for which there is reason for concern about possible adverse health effects for human populations. The investigation will center on concepts developed during the term, with emphasis on relating environmental exposures and toxicological mechanisms to quantitative risk assessment of potential health effects.



Course schedule.



Introductory Lecture

Prof. James Sherley

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum

Dr. Laura Green



Watch film A Civil Action

Prof. James Sherley

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum

Dr. Laura Green



From the Real World to Hollywood and Back Again

Dr. Laura Green



Epidemiology: Persons, Places, and Time

Prof. James Sherley



Epidemiology: Test Development and Relative Risk

Prof. James Sherley



Biostatistics: Concepts in Variance

Prof. James Sherley

Problem set 1 Epidemiology out


Biostatistics: Distribution and the Mean

Confidence Intervals

Prof. James Sherley

Problem set 2 Biostatistics 1 out

Problem set 1 Epidemiology due


Biostatistics: Detecting Differences and Correlations

Prof. James Sherley



Biostatistics: Poisson Analyses and Power

Prof. James Sherley

Problem set 3 Biostatistics 2 out

Problem set 2 Biostatistics 1 due

Team project topic deadline


Environetics: Cause and Effect

Prof. James Sherley



Environetics: Study Design - Retrospective versus Prospective

Prof. James Sherley

Problem set 3 Biostatistics 2 due

Team project approvals completed


Environetics: Putting it all together - Evaluating Studies

Prof. James Sherley

Lady Tasting Tea

10-page review due


Quiz #1: Epidemiology-Biostatistics

Prof. James Sherley



Evaluating Environmental Causes of Mesothelioma

Prof. James Sherley



Quantitative Risk Assessment 1

Dr. Laura Green



Quantitative Risk Assessment 2

Dr. Laura Green



Toxicology 1

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum



Toxicology 2

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum

Problem set 4 Toxicology 1 out


Toxicology 3

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum



Toxicology 4

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum

Problem set 5 Toxicology 2 out

Problem set 4 Toxicology 1 due


Toxicology 5

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum



Quantitative Risk Assessment 3

Dr. Laura Green

Problem set 5 Toxicology 2 due


Quantitative Risk Assessment 4

Dr. Laura Green



Quiz #2: QRA-Toxicology

Dr. Laura Green

Prof. Steven Tannenbaum



Classroom Presentations of Team Projects


20-page team papers due in class


Classroom Presentations of Team Projects (cont.)   Tell A Friend