A.Y. 2022/2023
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The teaching aims to provide students with the knowledge of issues related to the impact of humans to the environment through the environmental risk assessment due to different environmental contaminants. In particular, the issues related to the distribution of pollutants in the various environmental compartments, their intake through organisms, bioaccumulation and the negative effects that they can cause in animals and humans will be discussed. Another educational objective of the teaching will be to provide the concepts relating to the acute and chronic toxicity and their measurement by means of classic ecotoxicological tests and other methods for evaluating the toxicological effect.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the teaching the student will be able to use the technical terminology related to the concepts of ecotoxicology and recognize the different categories of different environmental contaminants. Moreover, he will have to know the concepts of the environmental risk assessment related to the introduction of pollutants of anthropic origin into the environment and to the different ecotoxicological methods that allow this assessment. Finally, he will be able to know the principles related to how dangerous substances enter organisms, how they are distributed in body districts and the effects they have on organisms, including humans.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Heavy metals: definition, mechanisms of action, examples. Man-made chemicals: definition, environmental risk, definition of the main POP classes. Emerging contaminants (drugs of abuse, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, plastics). Persistence and degradation: photo-degradation and bio-degradation, biodegradation assays
Biphasic partitioning coefficients: definition and role played by Kow, Koc and Kaw. Absorption cellular processes: active and passive mechanisms. Distribution mechanisms. Metabolism and excretion. Phase I and Phase II detoxification systems. Bioconcentration: kinetic trend, bioconcentration factor (BCF), examples. Biomagnification: definition, examples. Endocrine disruptors: endocrine modulators and endocrine disruptors, mechanisms of action, windows of sensitivity, transgenerational effects. Intensive agriculture and pesticide use: the green revolution, advantages and disadvantages of pesticides. The toxicity concept: acute and chronic toxicity. Ecotoxicological tests and the environmental legislations. Bioindicators: definition, application and examples. Ecotoxicological and toxicological risk evaluation (NOEL, ADI, PEC).
Prerequisites for admission
To understand the topics covered during the lessons it is strongly recommended to have knowledge of ecology, general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, zoology and botany.
Teaching methods
The teaching will be delivered through interactive frontal lessons with the help of the projection of slides. The teacher will try to actively involve students in the discussion of environmental issues of strict relevance, also organizing seminars on specific issues.
Attendance of the course is highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
The recommended texts for exam preparation are:
Ecotossicologia - Marco Vighi e Eros Bacci - UTET
Tossicologia - Galli, Corsini, Marinovich - PICCIN

We recommend having good notes from the lessons.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will be carried out orally, through a discussion that will focus on topics covered during the lectures. In addition to the skills acquired, the student's ability to connect the different topics covered in class and his clarity of presentation, as well as the ability to use the correct scientific terminology, will also be assessed.
BIO/07 - ECOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours