Environmental Health

  • SPH EH 705: Toxicology for Public Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: *Can?t be taken together for credit with SPH EH 768
    This course designed to introduce the basic concepts of toxicology to students from multiple fields and disciplines. The objectives of the first part of the course are to detail the routes of exposure to xenobiotics (chemicals and drugs) and to trace the pathways through which xenobiotics are absorbed, metabolized, distributed, excreted and biomonitored. In the second section of the course, we examine the effects of molecular/cellular changes on the function of key organ systems. Students are also introduced to regulatory toxicology and food toxicology. At the completion of the course students are expected to have an extensive toxicology vocabulary and a working knowledge of: 1) general toxicological principles, 2) inter-species and inter-individual differences in responses to toxicants, 3) the effects of several key toxicants on the normal function of several organ systems, and 4) the basic approach to regulatory toxicology. The overall objective of this course is to provide the student with an introduction to the language and principles of toxicology such that these principles may be applied to public health situations, as well as to efforts to improve sustainability and reduce toxics use, and be communicated to the general public.
    This course provides a foundation in the basic mechanisms required for human health. Students will learn the fundamentals of human physiology, from the molecular/cellular level to the level of the various organs and organ systems. The integration of organ system functions to maintain good health is considered in depth. After completing this course, students will be able to participate knowledgeably in discussions of diseases of public health concern. Moreover, upon entering the workforce as practitioners, they will be able to effectively communicate with and educate the public about actually how public health activities and interventions serve to promote healthy lives. This course is designed for students who have little or no background in the biological sciences.
  • SPH EH 710: Physiological Mechanisms of Health and Disease
    This course provides students with a detailed working knowledge of the normal mechanisms of human body function in both health and disease states. It is most appropriate for MS and PhD students, though it is available to all undergraduate and graduate students. Physiological mechanisms are studied from the molecular level to the level of organ systems, and emphasis is placed on understanding how body processes are regulated and integrated so as to achieve homeostasis characteristic of a normal, healthy individual. Students will become acquainted with both the gross and histological anatomy of major organs. For each system covered, a case studies of a diseases of significant public health interest are used to reinforce application of basic physiological principles, and to acquaint students with physiological measurements commonly used in clinical settings. This course is recommended for all students who need a substantive understanding of human physiology for subsequent coursework. This course will be of special value to students whom expect their careers to involve close interaction with health care providers.
  • SPH EH 713: Essentials of Genetic Technologies and the Future of Public Health
    You are all behind! Science and technology change so fast that you can't possibly keep up...unless you take this course. The last 10 years has seen an explosion in genetics, molecular biology, and the understanding of how our environment influences disease. These stunningly rapid advances have important implications for future public health approaches. Therefore, an understanding of the principal concepts of how genetic technologies can be adapted for public health is critical to the public health practitioner. This course will equip students with the ability to understand the potential applications of emerging technologies for various health specialties. In particular, the course introduces the very basic concepts of biology and molecular genetics and investigates the use of powerful biologic technologies impacting public health including RNA COVID vaccines, cancer genomics, gene therapy, GMOs, stem cells, molecular footprinting of environmental chemical exposure, and mining of the human genome. Right to privacy, discrimination on the basis of genetic makeup, human cloning, modifying the human genome, patenting genetically modified animals, and other ethical issues related to emerging technologies are addressed. This course is negotiable by any student showing a high level of enthusiasm for scientific discovery.
  • SPH EH 717: Foundations of Environmental Health
    EH717 is the introductory core course that focuses on assessment and control of a broad range of physical, chemical, and biological factors in the natural and built environment that affect the health of individuals and populations. EH717 addresses an array of environmental issues including emergency preparedness; food safety and regulation; electromagnetic radiation; energy utilization; solid, liquid, and hazardous materials management; the fate of chemicals in the environment; vector control; livestock production; air and water quality; occupational health and safety; the built environment; environmental justice; and other timely environmental issues of growing importance across the globe.
  • SPH EH 720: Climate Change and Public Health
    Climate change is a defining challenge of our time. Since the 1970s the Earth has experienced steadily rising average temperatures, with associated increases in extreme heat events, sea level, storm intensity, and drought events. Downstream impacts affecting public health include catastrophic winds and floods, deadly heat waves, population displacement, crop failures and food insecurity, altered ecology of infectious organisms, and more intense air pollution and pollen. Mounting evidence has documented the adverse human health consequences of these changes, including how health effects are mediated by social and economic vulnerability factors. The course begins with lectures on climate science as it relates to patterns of weather extremes. It then examines the range of human health impacts that are associated with climate change, with emphasis on identifying vulnerable populations and communities. Specific topics include changes in air quality, natural ecosystems, water quantity and quality, food security, ecosystem services, and built infrastructure. Throughout, students will present case studies evaluating adaptation and mitigation strategies to prevent health problems resulting from climate-related environmental issues, with focus on the sustainability of interventions. Outside subject matter experts join the classroom to discuss their real-world involvement in climate change and public health.
  • SPH EH 722: Climate Change and Health Equity
    The root causes and upstream drivers of climate change and health inequities are often the same. Our energy, transportation, land use, building, food and agriculture and socioeconomic systems are key contributors to the pollution that leads to anthropogenic climate change and, at the same time, shape our urban and rural communities and living conditions. Global impacts of climate change on health are moderated by individual and community vulnerability and resilience. Health impacts may differ by place, race and income as a result of factors such as inequities in the distribution of economic power, historical disinvestment in some communities, discriminatory practices and policies over time, structural racism, higher pollution burdens and poor access to resources for health benefits and improvement. As a result, certain groups including children, the elderly, and communities of color are less climate-resilient and more vulnerable to the negative health effects of climate change. This course will explore the interconnections between climate change, health, and equity, with a particular focus on upstream interventions to mitigate climate impacts that may have co-benefits for health and equity. We will rely on examples within the US as well as globally, to provide multiple perspectives including from the global south.
  • SPH EH 725: Analytical Methods in Environmental Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: Required for all EH concentrators who have not completed EH765. EH717may be taken concurrently with or prior to EH725.
    Students in this course learn the skills, methods and critical thinking framework necessary for upper level environmental health courses and for success as public health professionals. Environmental Health is a field of public health in which environmental hazards and health risks to populations are identified, assessed and managed through a data-driven process. This course extends the depth of concepts taught in EH717 and should be taken concurrently for students entering in the fall semester. We take the opportunity to partner with communities to design and conduct a data collection and analysis effort that is suitable for rigorous analyses with the many tools commonly used in environmental health.
  • SPH EH 727: Incorporating Health to Design Healthy Climate Solutions
    Despite the fact that the climate warming effects of carbon dioxide were discovered in 1856, policy action has been inadequate to reduce anthropogenic drivers of climate change. Emissions from the energy, transportation, building and agricultural sectors contribute to climate change; these sectors also contribute heavily to other harms to health, including through air pollution, physical inactivity, inadequate nutrition, and others. This class will use Health Impact Assessment, Risk and Exposure Assessment, and Life Cycle Assessment to explore how different societal and economic sectors contribute to climate change, positive and negative health implications of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from these sectors, and measures to help society adapt to climate change. We will then give students training in climate communication, policy, and politics to enable results to be used in climate policymaking. Students will learn about the strategies and tools to apply this knowledge to evaluate a climate mitigation or adaptation strategy of their choosing, and to develop an implementation.
  • SPH EH 730: Methods in Environmental Health Sciences
    This course is one of three foundational courses for the Environmental Health (EH) Certificate. Environmental health is a field of public health in which environmental hazards and health risks to populations are identified, assessed and managed through a data-driven process and sustainable alternatives are explored. This course extends the depth of concepts taught in the Core MPH curriculum and extends the breadth of topics to teach the scientific and policy aspects of a wide range of environmental health situations. In this course, we design and conduct a data collection and analysis effort that is suitable for rigorous analyses with the many tools commonly used in environmental health. The methods relevant to the field are taught in the context of the relevant environmental health issues of today. Students are well prepared for upper level environmental health courses and for success as public health professionals.
  • SPH EH 735: The Environmental Determinants of Infectious Diseases
    The environment is a key determinant of infectious disease burden in a population. This course presents an overview of how existing and, in particular, changing global environmental (physical, social, and behavioral) factors can affect the transmission cycle of infectious pathogens in both developing and industrialized countries. It examines issues of water, sanitation and hygiene in resource-limited settings that contribute to the enormous morbidity and mortality associated with childhood diarrheal diseases, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It also explores how environmental alterations and natural disasters can result in ecological changes that impact the maintenance and spread of infectious diseases in a community. Sustainable environmental intervention strategies to reduce the burden of infectious diseases will be considered for each of the major diseases covered in class. This course is appropriate for MPH students and undergraduates.
  • SPH EH 745: Wastewater and Health/Sustainable Sanitation
    Graduate Prerequisites: EH 730 or consent of instructor.
    This course provides students with an overview of the relationship between human health, ecological health, and sanitation. The different disposal and treatment methods for human excreta are described in their historical and political contexts. Related topics such as the land application of sewage sludge, the role of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and public health experts are presented as well as practical solutions toward sustainable sanitation. This course involves a group project and a paper.
  • SPH EH 750: Water Quality and Public Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: EH 730 or permission of the instructor. For undergrads, course in biology or chemistry.
    Adequate water supply and good water quality are critical to the public's health and for disease prevention. The processes for design and management of municipal treatment facilities and private water systems are examined -- with attention to climate change impacts. Considerations of historical contaminants (lead, cholera andfeces) and emerging contaminants (PFAS, pharmaceuticals and Harmful Algae) with regard to water treatment and sustainable solutions are emphasized. Water quality topics include standards and regulations and water quality analysis of drinking and surface waters. Social, political, and economic factors effecting water quality, treatment and access are discussed. Students are expected to participate in field sampling (during class time) in order gain useful skills.
  • SPH EH 757: Environmental Epidemiology
    Graduate Prerequisites: EH 730 or consent from instructor.
    This course introduces students to epidemiologic investigations of environmental health problems, a fundamental tool for building a sustainable and healthy future. Topics include perennial subjects such as the health effects associated with air and water contaminants and occupational exposure, as well as newer issues such as endocrine and metabolic disruptors, PFAS "forever chemicals", chemicals in consumer products, exposure to mixtures of compounds and environmental epidemiology of pets. The course emphasizes epidemiologic methods, particularly exposure assessment, confounding, and sources of bias. Students gain experience in the critical review and design of related epidemiologic studies. This course counts as concentration credit for epidemiology concentrators.
  • SPH EH 768: Toxicology for Environmental Health and Epidemiology
    Graduate Prerequisites: *Can?t be taken together for credit with SPH EH 705
    The Global Burden of Disease analysis shows that environmental factors contribute substantially to morbidity and mortality worldwide. This course is designed both to introduce fundamental concepts in toxicology and to delve more deeply into the critical elements that are necessary to explain the responses of populations to environmental hazards, with an emphasis on chemicals. This course will provide students with the tools to identify toxicological data that support the biological plausibility of a chemical exposure leading to an adverse health outcome, which is critical to strengthening associations identified by epidemiological analyses. This in-depth introduction includes toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. Particulate matter, arsenic and perfluoroalkyl substance exposures, along with others, will be used as examples to demonstrate how toxicity and carcinogenesis can be induced in representative organs systems, including the respiratory, endocrine/reproductive, immune, and nervous systems.
  • SPH EH 771: Topics in Environmental Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH EH730
    Two and four credit topics courses are offered throughout the academic year as a means of exploring new areas of study in the discipline. Topics vary by semester. Please refer to the print schedule for the specific area for any given semester.
  • SPH EH 795: Urban Biogeoscience and Environmental Health: From Research to Policy
    This course prepares graduate students to address urban environmental challenges through hands-on training in a semester-long internship with the City of Boston, other cities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and/or private sector organizations to learn how cities are handling urban environmental challenges, including but not limited to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, protecting vulnerable populations from air pollution, and issues related to water quality and quantity. Additional requirements are one course in Biogeoscience (4 credits), one course in Environmental Health (4 credits), and one course in Statistics (4 credits).
  • SPH EH 797: Urban Biogeoscience and Environmental Health Applied Research Methods
    This course prepares graduate students to address urban environmental challenges through hands-on training in a semester-long internship with the City of Boston, other cities, NGOs, and/or private sector organizations to learn how cities are handling urban environmental challenges, including but not limited to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, protecting vulnerable populations from air pollution, and issues related to water quality and quantity.
  • SPH EH 799: Urban Biogeoscience and Environmental Health Colloquium
    This course introduces students to the fields of Urban Biogeoscience and Environmental Health through weekly reading, discussions, and seminars.
  • SPH EH 804: Field Methods in Exposure Science
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH 717 or SPH EH 730; or consent from instructor.
    The process of assessing exposure is a critical component of occupational and environmental epidemiology, of determining compliance with health and safety regulations, and in conducting human health risk assessments. This course in exposure assessment covers the basic concepts and methods of study design, data collection, and data analysis/interpretation. Students analyze relevant case studies and conduct a study in which they develop their own exposure assessment strategy, collect and analyze data, prepare a final report, and present their findings. This class requires an outside of class time commitment.