1. Learning outcomes

    After taking the modules in this elearning course, you will be able to:

    MODULE 01 - Introduction to ecotoxicology and the environment

    • Describe what is meant by the term ecotoxicology and how it differs to toxicology.
    • Describe what is meant by the term “environment” and environmental effect.
    • Be able to define the terms individual, population, community, ecosystem, habitat and species.
    • Explain why it is important to study ecotoxicology.

    MODULE 02 - Introduction to environmental risk assessment

    • Explain what is meant by environmental risk assessment and why it is important to undertake such an assessment.
    • Define the terms risk, hazard and exposure.
    • Explain what is meant by the terms hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment and risk characterisation.
    • Describe the kinds of uncertainty which may be encountered when undertaking an environmental risk assessment.

    MODULE 03 - Environmental release

    • Outline what is meant by the substance lifecycle (production, formulation, use and disposal) and why it is important to understand this concept.
    • Explain what is meant by the term environmental compartments.
    • Explain how substances are released into the environment (point and diffuse. sources), local and regional environment and spatial and temporal scales.

    MODULE 04 - Environmental transport and fate

    • Explain what is meant by environmental transport and fate.
    • Outline the factors which can affect environmental mobility.

    MODULE 05 - Physico-chemical properties

    • Describe and define the important physico-chemical parameters which can be used
    • Vapour pressure and volatility
    • Water solubility
    • Octanol water partition coefficient
    • pH
    • Hydrolysis
    • KOC – adsorption coefficient (soil carbon water partitioning coefficient)
    • Fugacity
    • Henry's Law Constant

    MODULE 06 - Aquatic ecotoxicology

    • Explain what is meant by the term aquatic ecotoxicology and the importance of the aquatic compartment and why this is used for classification and labelling.
    • Explain the key indicators used in assessment and the rationale behind this.
    • Define the terms acute and chronic effects, LC50, EC50, NOEC, LOEC.
    • Define the term trophic levels, its significance and the test species that are commonly used.

    MODULE 07 - Aquatic ecotoxicology testing

    • Explain the differences between short term and long term testing.
    • Explain why vertebrates, invertebrates and green plants are used in the assessment.
    • Explain why different exposure systems may be required, what these are and when they are used (static, semi static, flow through).
    • Explain the difference between nominal concentration and measured concentration.
    • Explain the approach taken to testing in the absence of any usable data for fish.

    MODULE 08 - Terrestrial toxicity

    • Explain what is meant by terrestrial toxicology.
    • Explain the importance of soil in relation to the terrestrial ecosystem and how it can become contaminated.
    • Explain the importance of assessing potential terrestrial vertebrate and invertebrate toxicity and how they may become exposed to chemicals within this ecosystem.

    MODULE 09 - Chemical persistence and degradation

    • Explain what is meant by persistence and degradation.
    • Outline the differences between biotic and abiotic degradation.
    • Explain what is meant by aerobic and anaerobic degradation.
    • Explain what is meant by primary and ultimate biodegradation.
    • Explain what is meant by persistence and how it relates to degradation.
    • Explain what is meant by persistent organic pollutant (POP).

    MODULE 10 - Chemical persistence and degradability assessment

    Biotic degradation

    • Explain why it is important to assess the potential for a substance to degrade within the environment.
    • Outline the types of test and criteria (ready biodegradable, inherent biodegradation).
    • Explain what is meant in CLP/GHS by rapid degradability and the criteria for assessment.
    • Explain the significance of BOD/COD and theoretical oxygen demand and how these can be used to assess the potential for degradation.
    • Explain the function of the wastewater treatment plant/sewage treatment plant and how and when this would be assessed.

    Abiotic degradation

    • Explain what is meant by the terms hydrolysis, oxidation, reduction and photochemical degradation.
    • Outline the methods to measure these effects.

    MODULE 11 - Bioaccumulation, bioconcentration and biomagnification

    • Explain the relationship between degradability and bioaccumulation.
    • Explain what is meant by the terms bioconcentration, bioaccumulation, biomagnification and bioconcentration factor.
    • Outline the significance of these terms to the ecosystems.
    • Explain the significance of indirect exposure to humans – man via the environment.
    • Describe the ways in which the potential for bioaccumulation can be assessed (fish and Log KOw).

    MODULE 12 - PBT & vPvB

    • Define the terms PBT and vPvB.
    • Explain why PBT / vPvB substances are of concern.
    • Explain why under REACH an additional assessment for PBT and vPvB is required.
    • Outline the approach taken for the assessment of PBT and vPvB.
    • Explain the consequences under REACH for substances classified as PBT and vPvB.

    MODULE 13 - Alternatives to testing

    • Be able to explain what is meant by the terms refinement, reduction and replacement.
    • Outline which of the three trophic levels falls under the realms of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.
    • Describe the vertebrate testing approach taken by REACH.
      Explain what is meant by a tiered testing approach with one example.
    • Outline the use of the fish embryo test and two of its current limitations.
    • Explain what is meant by the threshold approach.
    • Outline the current status with regards to use of Qsar models.

    MODULE 14 - Calculation of predicted no effect concentration (PNEC)

    • Be able to define the term PNEC.
    • Explain how the PNEC is used.
    • Describe the types of PNEC which could be derived.
    • Outline the approach for deriving a PNEC.
    • Explain why assessment factors need to be used and what they do.
    • Explain the approach taken in the assessment of a PNEC (marine) in the absence of marine data.
    • Describe an alternative approach which can be used for the derivation of the PNEC (soil and sediment) in the absence of data.
    • Outline when a PNEC (oral) might need to be considered.

    MODULE 15 - Environmental exposure assessment

    • Explain why it is important to undertake an environmental exposure assessment.
    • Explain why a knowledge of the lifecycle stages is important.
    • Define the term release rate and the difference between local and regional emissions.
    • Explain the difference between Environmental Release Categories and Specific Environmental Release Categories.
    • Explain what is meant by the term environmental fate and the processes involved.
    • Define what is meant by predicted effect concentration (PEC).
    • Explain what is meant by secondary poisoning and man exposed via the environment.
    • Outline the differences between measured and modelling approach for exposure estimates.
    • Outline how the results of exposure assessment are used in risk characterisation.