PHEO 675:† Water & Environmental Public Health

Fall, 2009

Course Description:

To provide a broad understanding of the elements of water and environmental public health and how these major environmental issues affect our society.† It will examine water-related health issues, scientific understanding of causes and associations, and possible future approaches to understanding the major environmental health problems in developed and developing countries.

Topics include how the human body reacts to environmental pollutants in water; physical, chemical, and biological agents of environmental contamination; vectors for dissemination; solid and hazardous waste and itsí impacts; environmental justice and susceptible populations; biomarkers and risk analysis; the scientific basis for policy decisions; and emerging global environmental public health problems.

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define the major sources and types of environmental agents in water.
  • Discuss the transport and fate of these agents in the environment.
  • Identify the carriers or vectors that promote the transfer of these agents from the environment to the human.
  • Describe how these agents interact with biological systems, and the mechanisms by which they exert adverse health effects.
  • Explain and use models for prediction of the magnitude of adverse effects in biological systems.
  • Understand water systems (i.e., municipal, community, and point of use systems)
  • Identify and define the steps in the risk-assessment and risk-management processes.
  • Describe the steps in the regulatory process, in terms of risk assessment and risk management, and identify current legislation and regulations regarding environmental issues.
  • Identify significant gaps in the current knowledge base concerning the public health effects of environmental agents and identify areas of uncertainty in the risk-assessment process.

Method of Grading:


30% ††† Class Participation & Assignments

10% ††† Collect news, articles, journals, etc. †about water issues for presentation in class.

60%†††† Mid-term, Final exams


Academic Credits:3


There is no formal textbook for the course.† Instead, readings will come from the current scientific literature and other sources as appropriate for each topic.†† For students interested in broad coverage, the following basic texts are recommended as additional resources:

Blumenthal, D. S., and A.J. Ruttenber (1995). Introduction to environmental health. Second Edition. New York: Springer.

Frumkin, H. (Ed.). (2005). Environmental Health: From Global to Local.† San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Imprint.

Lippmann, M. (Ed.). (1992). Environmental toxicants: Human exposures and their health effects. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Moeller, D. W. (1997). Environmental health (Revised ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Moore, G. S. (1999). Living with the earth: Concepts in environmental health science. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers.

Nadakavukaren, A. (2000). Our global environment: A health perspective (5th ed.) Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, Inc.

Philp, R. B. (1995). Environmental hazards and human health. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers.

Sax, J.L., B. H. Thompson, J. D. Leshy, and R. H. Abrams (2006).† Legal Control of Water Resources (4th ed.).

Course Topics:

  • Introduction to Water & Public Health
  • Human impact on the environment
  • Environment-human interaction
  • Environmental impact on humans
  • Food- and water-borne disease
  • Water Contaminants
  • Case Studies†
  • Environmental toxicology †
  • Water Law & Water Rights
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Water Quality Engineering
  • Water Use, Reuse, Conservation
  • Municipal, industrial, and hazardous waste
  • Environmental justice and policy
  • Risk communication

ASPH Core Competencies:† 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9


Class Attendance and Participation:

Class attendance is required, and students may be given reading(s), case study, and/or a list of questions to research before it is presented. Students will be called upon to present their answers in class. In addition, students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the materials that are being presented that day.


Rescheduling Exams:


Students are responsible for knowing the time and location for turning in exams. An exam due date may only be rescheduled if the student has an authorized absence (according to TAMUS-HSC or TAMU rules). Exam due dates will only be rescheduled for a time prior to the official due date. In these cases, a different exam may be given, and if a different exam is used, any curve that is applied to the rest of the class will not be applied to this exam.† If an exam must be rescheduled, the written exam may be replaced with an oral exam at the discretion of the Professor


Office Hours:

Office hours are by appointment. Students are encouraged to see the Professor at any time during the course if they have any questions.

Disability Support Services:


It is the policy of the Professor to accommodate students with disabilities pursuant to federal law, state law policy, and the Texas A&M Health Science Centerís commitment to equal educational opportunities. Any student with a disability who needs accommodation should inform the Professor at the beginning of the course. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services, 979/845-1637.


Academic Honesty:


Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. Individuals found guilty of academic dishonesty may be dismissed from the degree program. It is the studentís responsibility to have a clear understanding of how to reference other individualsí work, as well as having a clear understanding in general as to the various aspects of academic dishonesty. †

Any student accused of a specific act stated in the previous paragraph is subject to The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center and the School of Rural Public Health academic policies and procedures pertaining to violations of the student code of conduct for academic integrity. Please see the SRPH Student Guide for more information.