Toxicology

Air pollution. Water pollution. Hazardous waste. Contaminated food and consumer goods. Regardless of the precautions that individuals take, exposures to environmental toxins are inevitable. And the daily introduction of new chemicals into the environment only adds to the challenges that face environmental health scientists as they seek to understand the long-term impact of environmental exposures on population health. In fact, researchers have estimated that a new chemical is introduced for industrial and consumer use every nine seconds.

In the Toxicology Certificate, students learn about the biological mechanisms of toxic exposure, the process for recognizing and evaluating associated risks, and the ways to use this knowledge to develop environmental health policy that better protects individuals. Professional preparation in this complex field requires an interdisciplinary grounding in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, molecular biology, toxicology, environmental sciences, and medicine. 

The certificate offers many professional opportunities. The United States Department of Health and Human Services declared environmental health a focus area for the next decade, and graduates will fill professional shortages and knowledge gaps in environmental remediation, policy development, and research. They will be well positioned to become leaders in academia, chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and both government and non-governmental agencies working to protect individuals from adverse environmental exposures.

Admissions Eligibility

Toxicology is open to Columbia MPH students in: 

Biostatistics
Environmental Health Sciences
Epidemiology
 

Due to course requirements, the certificate is most compatible for students in Environmental Health Sciences.

Students in Health Policy and Management, Population and Family Health, or Sociomedical Sciences who are able to complete the required sequenced courses will be considered for enrollment. However, students must have permission from their home department.

Learn More

Visit the Certificates Database to learn more about core and credit requirements.

Sample Courses

Occupational and Environmental Hygiene

This essential course for EHS professionals introduces students to the field of Industrial Hygiene and Safety Engineering and the application of their principles in the protection of workers and the public. It provides information on contaminants, hazardous work procedures, exposure monitoring, personal protective equipment, site testing, and common equipment that may expose workers above permissible levels. The course curriculum integrates OSHA certification requirements—an industry-specific certification accepted by employers—and allows students to test for and obtain an OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120"Occasional Site Worker"certification in class. Superfund sites, environmental investigations, and any other work operation requiring sampling or field research of toxic substances at uncontrolled sites is subject to compliance requirements under OSHA. Successful completion of the course and exam gives students the ability to access hazardous sites to conduct Environmental Health Investigations.

Toxicokinetics

Lectures and in-class practice help students learn to analyze experimental data and evaluate literature reports about the toxicokinetic—how a substance gets into the body and what happens to it in the body—aspects of chemical exposure. Topics cover the concept of compartment, analysis of blood and urine data, absorption kinetics, multi- or noncompartment analysis, PBPK modeling and risk assessment, and factors affecting toxicokinetic parameters of environmental toxicants—all framed using real-world problems.

Applied Environmental and Industrial Hygiene

The course deals with the practical applications of environmental and industrial hygiene. Students will conduct case studies of exposures to chemical and physical hazards, and utilize skills and knowledge obtained from prior courses to evaluate exposures, develop exposure controls, and perform sampling to document conditions. Exercises were designed to familiarize students with sample collection for particulates, volatile organics, asbestos, mold, lead, PCBs and other contaminants. At the completion of the course, students will be able to conduct a OSHA-type exposure assessment, conduct sampling, and data evaluation.

Related Certificates

Climate and Health
Environmental Health Policy
Molecular Epidemiology

Related Links

Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health
NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan
Superfund Basic Research Program