Course web-page for Special Topics ENCE 648/489  Spring 2004

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation

Quote from Rachel Carson in Silent Spring: "If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals - eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones - we had better know something about their nature and their power."

Suggested Texts   Grading Policy     Tentative Schedule    Class Notes 

Course Brief:

The objective of this course is to examine the fundamental principles governing toxic contaminant exposure and risk to humans and ecosyetems. The course will cover necessary aspects of probability and statistics, physical and chemical behavior of key priority pollutants, mass transfer and exposure pathways of the contaminants, human and environmental toxicology, and methodologies for risk assessment. The course will also involve several case studies of remediation technology applications with a focus on understanding how human and environmental risk is managed in a real life situation. The course will rely heavily on current EPA guidance on site risk assessment.

The five main components of this course will be:

1. Fate of contaminants in the environment: environmental partitioning, dynamics of environmental distribution, mass-balance, mechanisms of transport & transformation, fugacity, environmental modelling

2. Human and ecosystem exposure: mechanisms of chemical uptake & elimination in biological organisms, toxicokinetics, bioaccumulation, concepts of bioavailability of a compound.

3. Toxicity of a compound: toxicity of chemical pollutants in biological organisms, dose-response relationships, toxicity of single & mixtures of chemicals, ecotoxicity, carcinogenicity.

4. Human health and ecological risk assessment: cancer potency factors, reference dose, quantitative risk assessment.

5. Remediation of contaminated sites: Two case studies will be evaluated to understand how site risk assessment leads to the selection of remedial alternatives. One site will be a contaminated sediments site, and the other will be a terrestrial site.


Dr. Upal Ghosh office: Technology Research Center, Room 276; phone: 410-455-8665; e-mail:

Time and Location: 
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm Monday and Wednesday; UMBC Technology Research Center room 122