WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL TOXICOLOGY?
Environmental toxicology is a multidisciplinary science that studies chemicals in the environment, their mechanisms of action, and potentially negative impact on humans and ecosystems. Industry and agriculture are the source of many chemicals, which come into the environment because of improper treatment and disposal of industrial waste or incidents occurring during transportation or production.
The role of the environmental toxicologist is to assess the effects chemicals have upon humans as well as the environment and ecosystems. Also, they study the fate and persistence of chemicals in the environment and attempt to develop solutions to remediate contamination.
Today people are very concerned about the presence of chemicals in the environment because of the immediacy of the effect upon them. Environmental toxicology must answer a number of critical and significant questions:
- Is cancer incidence increased by substances in the environment?
- Does prenatal exposure to naturally occurring or synthesis of new chemicals constitute a possible hazard to the unborn?
- Is there any way of predicting the environmental fate of chemicals released to the environment and circulating in soil, water and the foodchain?
- What testing protocols have to be developed to determine safety of environmental chemicals?
These questions do not have simple answers and require intensive and rigorous scientific investigation. A balance must be found between benefits and risks of using chemicals. Without chemicals, modern life as we know and enjoy would be difficult to maintain.