Teaching

My teaching relates to ecotoxicology and chemical risk assessment in various facets. Currently I am also the responsible programme co-ordinator for the International Master Programme on Ecotoxicology.

I lead two course in the area, one on ”The Fundamentals in Ecotoxicology” (7.5 ECTS), one in ”Chemical Risk Assessment” (15 ECTS). Additionally, I provide a series of lectures on two other ecotoxicology courses at our Department (physiologically oriented and ecologically oriented) and give selected lectures in several other courses at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology.

Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology

This course is given once a year, starting in September, at the beginning of the term. It runs in parallel with the course on Environmental Impact Assessment. The course consists of four major parts:

  1. Lectures, which are not mandatory, but whose content will provide the basis for the following quizzes, seminars, exercises and the final exam.
  2. Mandatory elements, in the form of quizzes and computer exercises. Students that do not take part in compulsory elements of the course are required to submit written summaries of the content of these moments to pass the course.
  3. A mandatory laboratory part. Active participation, the preparation of a written report and an oral presentation (group task) is required.
  4. Final individual exam on the content of 1) and 2), in written form (hall exam)

After taking the course you should

  • have an in-depth understanding of the different types of ecotoxicological bioassays (including standardized and non-standardized assays), their design and underlying scientific rationalization
  • have an overview of typical types of pollution sources and their environmental impact
  • know the different classification schemes for environmental pollutants
  • be aware of the different protection goals in ecotoxicology
  • have an overview of up- and coming areas in ecotoxicology
  • have a first overview of regulatory ecotoxicology
  • have realized that ecotoxicology as an applied science is tightly connected to other disciplines (chemistry, statistics), but also to society at large

Chemical Risk Assessment

This course runs as a full time course in the second half of the winter term, usually starting at the beginning of November and ending mid-January. It will provide an overview of the risk assessment of chemicals. It will not only discuss the scientific background to current approaches and will give an overview of how such risk assessments are actually implemented in national and trans-national procedures, it will also analyse the socio-political context in which this process takes place. The course provides details on important regulatory frameworks, such as for example the IPPC directive (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control), the  Biocide Regulation, the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) or the REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals). Although the major focus will be on European approaches, comparisons with other methodologies such as those put forward by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the OECD will be made.

The course will follow the typical three steps during in risk assessment of chemicals and will provide an overview on approaches and methodologies for (a) hazard assessment (b) exposure assessment and (c) risk assessment of chemicals. Although the course focuses on risk assessment for the environment, references to human health risk assessment will be made from time to time, in order to analyse commonalities and differences between these two major risk assessment fields.

The following two books are available as ebooks in the library of the University and are recommended as background material:

  • Risk Assessment of Chemicals: An Introduction, by C.J. van Leeuwen and T.G. Vermeire. 2nd ed., 2007. Direct download link here.
  • Regulating Chemical Risks European and Global Challenges, by Johan Eriksson, Michael Gilek, Christina Rudén. 2010. Direct download link

The download links only work if you are logged in into the University’s network, or if you can supply a valid library card number & person number. Additional materials will be provided on the fly in the form of scientific articles, book excerpts and official guidance documents.

The course is divided into the following parts:

  1. Lectures
    Classical lectures, taking 2 hours each with 1-2 breaks in between. Handouts of the slides will be distributed
  2. “Student lectures”
    Lectures held be pairs of students participating in the course (mandatory for each participant). The specific topics will be distributed at the beginning of the course. The final number of “student lectures” will depend on the final number of course participants.
  3. Feedback meetings
    Meeting in which the participants have the opportunity to ask open questions about previous lectures and seminar. Also upcoming parts of the course (such as the distribution of topic for the “student lectures” and projects) will be introduced. Technicalities such as presentation techniques will also be discussed here.
  4. Computer excercises
    2 specific dates in which the participants will gather practical experiences on how to gather the necessary data and on how to conduct the first assessments.
  5. Project work
    Project work in small groups on a selected topic.

After taking the course you should

  • have a sound understanding of the scientific principles behind chemical risk assessment;
  • comprehend that risk assessment is a tiered approach that builds on an iterative refinement of two principal blocks, exposure and ecotoxicological assessment and how the results from these evaluations are finally condensed into the actual risk assessment;
  • understand the crucial role of uncertainty evaluations in this process, and how this is considered;
  • be able to describe how the risk assessment process is adapted to specific situations (e.g. prospective vs. retrospective, local vs. global assessments), to specific environmental compartments (e.g. aquatic, terrestrial) and to different groups of chemicals (e.g. general industrial chemicals, plant protection products, biocides, pharmaceuticals);
  • know the differences and commonalities between environmental and human health risk assessment;
  • have an overview of major European regulatory frameworks, especially REACH;
  • recognise the conflicts between scientific knowledge and demands on the one hand and the need for pragmatism in routine risk assessment on the other;
  • realise the socio-political dimension of the process;
  • appreciate, that risk assessment is not the end of the story but is followed and accompanied by risk management, risk mitigation and cost-benefit analyses;
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