By Rod Thompson, Regulatory Toxicologist/Vapor Intrusion Expert at Risk Options, LLC and SPEA Associate Faculty Member
Chemical exposure occurs wherever we are in the world. The outdoor and indoor air we breathe, water we drink, lakes we swim in, and the soil we build on and play in, all have chemical exposure from hundreds of years of industrial manufacturing, energy production, land development, and waste disposal practices.
SPEA-V 311: Natural Resources and Environmental Policy has been redesigned to address the increasing role human health and ecological risk-assessment play in current environmental regulation and sustainability. This is because risk assessment is evolving more broadly into what is known as a risk-based approach to regulation – a practice that leads companies to focus on assessing and responding to risks that may arise.
For instance, how do we translate the fundamental requirement of the Clean Water Act — a federal law that governs water pollution — into day-to-day operating permits, regulation and ultimately protection? What chemicals are the most toxic and why? How are we exposed to them, and where are they located?
The US Environmental Protection Agency, which is dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, defines risk assessment as “the process [used] to estimate the nature and probability of adverse health effects in humans who may be exposed to chemicals in contaminated environmental media [air, soil, water, sediment] now or in the future.”
Some of the major learning outcomes of this course are:
- Understand the environmental acts that regulate fishable and swimmable waters, clean air and hazardous waste in the US and how they influence natural resources, economics, employment, and business.
- Learn how risk assessment is used to set acceptable chemical exposure levels such as drinking water and ambient air standards.
- Discover how toxicity and exposure conditions are used in risk assessment to set standards and safe exposure levels.
- Understand how chemicals are assigned toxicity values and which chemicals have the greatest environmental impact and how to manage risk using options such as institutional or exposure controls.
- Learn how to communicate the meaning of “risk assessment” results to managers and the public.
- Gain insight into how chemicals behave in the environment (fate and transport) and the policy issues surrounding their regulation.
Students do not need a strong background in science to take this course or to apply the learning outcomes. The use of risk assessment and risk-based thinking in the current regulatory environment is more about policy than science. While hard science plays a strong role, the hard science is commonly determined at the national level by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Understanding the results of risk assessments, making informed decisions, learning how to manage risk, and communicating risk to decision makers and the public are the critical elements needed for day-to-day regulatory and management choices.
Students will also gain insight into how employment in the environmental field operates. You will hear lectures from those actually working in the field at the government, business, and consulting levels on employment, policy, and future directions.
Not an IUPUI student? Enroll as a visiting/non-degree student at http://enroll.iupui.edu/admissions/apply/. Scroll down and click on the “Apply Today!” button with the arrow. You will be prompted to create a guest account and follow instructions for application.
If you have previous college credits, you will submit previous transcripts. A $55 fee will be assessed at the time of application and regular tuition rates apply when enrolling in the class. You are encouraged to apply by December 1, 2016.
Please contact Director of Undergraduate Programs and Student Services Nicole Amonette if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-278-2077.