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PHCO:0503J - CRN# 17042
Introduction to Environmental Health
November 6, 2006

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Instructor: Fred Ellerbusch, PhD, MPH, MSc, PE, DEE
Phone: 732-261-4804 (Direct)
Fax: 609-860-2235
Coursepage: http://www.systemsthink.com/mph1.htm
e-mail: fred@systemsthink.com
Hours: By appointment, Mondays before or after class
Class Hours: Mondays 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Class Room: B-853 (Dental School), UMDNJ

Week by Week Summary of Topics

Course Objective:

In this course we will explore the way in which particular characteristics of our environment impinge on public health.  As a survey course we will examine health problems associated with chemical, physical, and biological agents, how they impact food safety, infectious disease, air quality, water quality and land resources in community and occupational settings.  Also, policies such as legal/regulatory remedies and the major governmental agencies that have responsibility or jurisdictional authority for improving public health through mitigation of environmental impacts will be reviewed.   Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

Required Texts, Publications, and Resources:

General Suggested (not required) Texts (see individual weeks for additional suggestions):

Course Requirements and Assessment:

Class Attendance and Participation:

Many ideas and experiences cannot be fully understood or appreciated by reading alone, they must be experienced directly or through active interaction with others during class. Participation in class is strongly encouraged. Communication is a core theme of this course and participation will improve communication and thinking skills. Class attendance is required and you will be asked to sign-in during class.  All absences will affect your participation grade (excused absences will be counted as 1/2 of a class). Remember, you can’t participate if you don’t attend.

In General - Writing Assignments:

Writing assignments are required to complete this course. These papers are to be fully developed college level papers, displaying the following attributes:

It is also worth noting that simply "lifting" material from a source is not graduate-level writing. Plagiary will not be tolerated; if detected, it will be reported immediately for disciplinary action.

Commentaries on a Current Environmental Health Topic:

You may be assigned to a group and expected to lead the class on a contemporary environmental health topic.  For that topic your group will be expected to prepare a written commentary (minimum of 5 double-spaced typed pages) to be handed in prior to the class.  You will be expected to draw your topic from Journal articles such as those found at the current articles link.  

Some guidelines as you read and comment on journal articles:

Not all aspects of the guidelines will apply to every article; in fact some articles are policy oriented and it will difficult to conform the commentary to any of the above.  However, policy oriented articles should be examined from the same critical (and systems thinking) perspective realizing that a more qualitative approach will be needed.  In any event, you should be able to examine the thesis, the strength of the argument, its theoretical basis, scientific support, and if you agree with the article or not (with support for your position).  Commentaries must be finished prior to the start of the class.  Commentaries will be graded.  An "A" cannot be earned without additional citations to support your thoughts.


Some short quizzes on the reading assignments may be given. If the results demonstrate that the class is prepared, the frequency of quizzes will decrease or be eliminated.

A mid-term and a final exam will be given. The exams will consist of questions requiring short objective, multiple choice, and/or true-false answers. The exam may also include short essay questions. The final exam will be given on the materials covered after the mid-term exam.

Final Project:

The class will be divided into project teams with each team preparing a final written report of approximately 20 pages in length (double spaced 11 point font) and oral/poster presentation. The project will focus on the practical application of the course to an environment that you are most familiar -- where you live.

Each group will design and implement a research study to determine the monthly average utilization rate of natural resources, contribution to air pollution, as well as, the amount of solid and hazardous waste produced in their homes (on a per capita basis), and compare their findings to other residential homes in the New Jersey and the United States.  Each team member must measure their own utilization and pollution contribution and contribute these data to the team.  This information will form the basis for a report of the following:

Minimum Data requirements, to be collected during the month of October:

Each group should determine their method for data collection and recording before October 1.  Remember to keep track of your assumptions and methods.  During November each group will compute group averages for the data elements listed above and compare their data to New Jersey and National figures. Based on the data, groups will consider potential factors that influence resource consumption and develop recommendations for reduction.  Each group will be assigned an area of emphasis to develop recommendations from among the following: water consumption, solid waste reduction and recycling, home energy consumption and reduction, commuting energy consumption and reduction, air pollution reduction, etc..

The written report should be organized in the following sequence:


Late papers will not be accepted; absences from examinations will be excused only with prior approval, not after the fact.


Final grade will be developed based on the following:

Groups may be asked to grade each other on their level of effort to complete group work. This input will be taken into consideration in the development of the group work grade for each student.

Week by Week Summary of Topics:

Introduction and Systems Thinking

Overview of Environmental Health, Eco-systems, and Populations

Hazards & Toxicity

Risk Assessment

Risk Management and Communication


Air Quality, Pollution, and Health

Radiation Safety

Water Quality, Pollution, and Health

Solid & Hazardous Wastes, Legacy Pollutants and Health

Emerging Diseases, Infectious Disease and Epidemics

Occupational Health and Environmental Law

Foodborne Illness