Northwest Environmental Training Center (NWETC)

Introduction to Aquatic Toxicology



This introductory course provides participants with a strong foundation of aquatic toxicology and how these concepts are applied to managing pollutants in aquatic environments. The course covers terminology, common test designs, and endpoints such as lethality and endocrine disruption. Important legacy and emerging pollutants of concern such as heavy metals, organic pesticides, PAHs, PCBs, PBDEs, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and nanoparticles will also be presented. Fate and transport as it relates to bioavailability and pollutant partitioning in aquatic environments will be discussed. Water Quality criteria from the Clean Water Act with an emphasis on, and examples of, site specific criteria for metals using hardness correction, water effects ratio (WER), and the biotic ligand model (BLM) are also included.

After completing this course, participants will be able to:

  • Apply toxicology principles to environmental issues.
  • Understand how aquatic organisms are exposed to toxic chemicals.
  • Identify factors affecting toxicity.
  • Understand similarities and differences between the toxicity of metals and organic chemicals.
  • Understand modes of action of toxic chemicals, types of effects from the molecular to the ecosystem level, and detoxification processes.
  • Assess toxicity in terms of LC50 and EC50, and develop dose-response curves.
  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of various toxicity testing methods.
  • Understand the scientific basis for and limitations of water quality standards.

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