Environmental Studies

Environmental Toxicology (ENVS 130)

ENVS 130 focuses on the aspects of toxicology which enable us to study and explore environmental issues concerning human and ecosystem health. Students explore the impact of human activity since World War II in contributing to human disease and ecosystem disruption. Risk perception and communication as it concerns environmental toxicology is also be discussed. It emphasizes the scientific basis for predicting adverse effects of human exposure to toxic substances in the environment. 

The SIRIUS Module in ENVS 130 involves student risk assessment for mercury and organic contaminant (e.g., PCBs, PAHs, pesticides, etc.) toxicity in fish from the American River. Students use existing data to determine the risk of human exposure relative to published concentrations of contaminants in fish caught locally. ENVS 130 is a Lecture/Discussion-based course without a laboratory section, and it is exciting for us to develop a meta-analysis-based CURE to reach students outside of the traditional laboratory classroom, yet in a setting where real-world and real-time data are used to assess environmental and health impacts.

The New Field Methods Course

This course will be available to all students studying the environmental sciences and will prepare them to assess, monitor, and research abiotic conditions and processes in riparian and urban ecosystems.  Students will perform investigations that predict and test the relationship between abiotic factors –water chemistry, stream dynamics, soil water dynamics, and air quality – and local biotic conditions and human activities. Students will measure variations in common anthropogenic pollutants, such as ozone, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), relative to the distance of streets or industries from the river. These investigations will provide important supporting data to existing CURES in BIO 1, 2 and 160, GEOL 10L and 127, ENVS 130, and many investigator-initiated studies on- and off-campus.