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HSC 3002 Environmental Toxicology and Human Health

HSC 3002 Environmental Toxicology and Human Health

 

Environmental toxicology is a multidisciplinary domain of science, which occupies an important niche, overlapping the fields of toxicology, environmental health, and public policy. While studying the adverse health effects of chemical, biological, and physical agents on living organisms in the ecosystems, environmental toxicology focuses on humans and therefore plays an important role in addressing public health challenges. Over the years, environmental toxicology research has been providing tools and scientific evidence to policy-makers and the public in preventing substantially greater environmental degradation, including adverse human health impacts.

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In East Asia, with the increasing number of environmental problems, there is a pressing need for immediate health solutions, and environmental toxicology is expected to increasingly play an important role. More fundamental and applied research must be carried out to deal with the public health challenges in terms of environmental problems and to increase the body of scientific knowledge in this field. While environmental toxicology receives increasing attention and shows significant growth, the number of articles published in international journals on environmental toxicology is still relatively limited. As society changes due to introduction of new technologies and the challenge of sustainable development in the face of increased human population, especially in the East Asian region, the role of environmental toxicology in enlightened public health and public policy will become even more important.

Air pollution from both natural and anthropogenic sources now constitutes one of the greatest public health challenges in East Asia at the present time. N. F. Suhaimi and J. Jalaludin conducted a search of journal articles and identified seven studies which used biomarkers to understand the association between air particles exposure and the development of respiratory problems resulting from the damage in the respiratory system. While finding the application of biomarkers in epidemiological studies of health effects caused by air particles in both environmental and occupational health to be inchoate, they concluded that biomarkers can unravel the complexity of the connection between exposure to air particles and respiratory health. N. A. M. N. Rawi et al. carried out a cross-sectional study among Malay children in Selangor to determine the indoor air quality (IAQ) and its association with respiratory health.

They measured the levels of particulate matters (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), air velocity (AV), temperature, and relative humidity and found that abnormality of FVC% among children was associated with the concentrations of PM2.5 and CO, while abnormality of FEV1% among children was associated with the concentration of CO. In addition, they found that wheezing was associated with concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, and CO. M. Watanabe et al. also studied the effects of air pollution on the pulmonary function of school children but targeted at the Asian dust storm (ADS). They identified seven ADS days from 2012 to 2013 in the Shimane Prefecture of Japan and observed a larger change in morning peak expiratory flow (PEF) in children after ADS exposure in 2012 (−8.17 L/min versus −1.17 L/min). Using airborne particles collected on ADS days to stimulate THP-G8 cells, they found interleukin-8 transcriptional activity was also higher when particles collected in 2012 were used. Therefore, they argue that the influence of ADS on pulmonary function of children may be related to interleukin-8 production.

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