Streams of Coal or Streams of Death?
A Toxicology Case Study
Mary Beth was raised in Western Pennsylvania, an area where thousands of abandoned coal mines have led to extensive contamination of streams and associated ground waters. Aquatic life has clearly suffered, but the health effects on people living along the waterways have not been so clear. In working through this interrupted case study, students consider the biological consequences for Mary Beth’s family by analyzing selected research articles. Originally developed for an upper level toxicology course, it would also be appropriate for a cancer biology course and could easily be adapted for a course in science and society or environmental studies.
- Use basic terminology and apply fundamental concepts of toxicology.
- Distinguish between toxicology and epidemiology.
- Understand the relationship between scientific research and risk assessment.
- Appreciate the complexity of the risk assessment process.
- Appreciate the improvements in environmental conditions and workplace safety that have occurred in the United States in the last 50 years.
- Analyze primary research literature.
- Explain the causes and mechanism of carcinogenesis.
KeywordsCoal mining; abandoned mine drainage; coal dust; carcinogenesis; cancer; risk assessment; workplace safety; experimental design; Western Pennsylvania
Topical AreasSocial justice issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsInterrupted, Journal Article
Subject HeadingsToxicology | Public Health | Epidemiology |
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