41669 - Environment and Food Toxicology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows: - the general principles of Toxicology; - the principles governing entry, fate and effects of toxicants on living systems; -a the major genetic and environmental determinants of risk; - how to recognize, identify, and quantify the hazard resulting from exposure to chemicals; -the public health aspects of chemicals in air, water, other parts of the environment, in food and drugs. The course is concerned with general principles of risk assessment and the definition of limits of safety of chemical agents.

Course contents


General Toxicology - Origin and scope of Toxicology, classification of toxic agents, spectrum of undesired effects, dose response. Absorption, distribution, and excretion of toxicants, metabolism of toxic substances; factors that affect the rates of metabolism of foreign compounds. Factors influencing the toxicity.

Molecular and cellular aspects of Toxicology (definition, mechanisms of actions, toxic agents):Oxidative stress. Cell death. Genetic toxicology. Chemical carcinogenesis. Developmental toxicology. Teratogens.

Systemic Toxicology (mechanisms of action, toxic agents): Toxic response of the liver. Toxic response of the kidney. Toxic response of the respiratory system. Toxic response of the nervous system. Toxic response of the reproductive system. Toxic response of the immune system. Toxic response of the skin.


Toxic agents - Pesticides. Metals. Solvents and vapors. Radiations. Persistant organic pollutants. Natural toxins. Food contaminants.

Risk evaluatio - Hazard identification. Dose-respose assessment. Exposure assessment. Risk characterization. Identification of effect levels ( LD50, LC50, NOAEL, LOAEL, ED10, BMD). Significance and calculation of reference doses (ADI, RfD). Definition of chemical safety limits. Margin of exposure (MOE). Threshold of Toxicological Concern - TTC. Risk management. Risk perception.

Case studies of xenobiotics in food and the environment.


Criteria for classification, labeling and packaging of substances and preparations: Directive EEC 67/548, GHS (Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals) and CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures);

The REACH (Regulation EC 1907/2006): procedures for the registration and risk assessment of chemicals on health and the environment

Guidance on the preparation of material safety data sheets.



Students can refer to:

Casarett & Doull -Elementi di Tossicologia ( Hrelia P e Cantelli Forti G editors), Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milano, 2013

C.L. Galli, E. Corsini, M. Marinovich - Tossicologia - Piccin, Padova, 2004.

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment methods

The exam will consist in two orals (or 1 oral and a written test) aimed at assessing the student's understanding and knowledge of the topics set out during the course. The examination of the modules 1 consists of one interviewe; modules 2 (oral or written according to disponibility) can be split but dealt with one exam.

Office hours

See the website of Sabrina Angelini

See the website of Fabiana Morroni

See the website of Saverio Savini