Ecotoxicology and food toxicology

Course Coordinator

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Course Description


Principles and elaboration of terms used in toxicology and ecology. Contaminants and their behavior in the ecosystem. The major classes of contaminants (organic pollutants: PCB, PCDD, PCDF, PBB, OP, carbamate and pyrethroid insecticides, phenoxy herbicides, detergents, radioactive isotopes, gaseous pollutants). Pathways of contaminants in ecosystem. Complex routes and movement modes of contaminants in the environment. The behavior of metals and radioactive isotopes in contaminated ecosystems. The behavior of organic pollutants individually in species and in ecosystems. Toxicity testing: animals and alternatives. Biochemical and physiological effects of contaminants: on cellular level, at organ level, at level of the whole organism, on behavior of aquatic animals. Interactive effects of different contaminants. Biomarkers in ecotoxicology: classification, specificity, relationship to various harmful effects, various number of examples. In situ biological monitoring. Risk assessment in ecotoxicology. GMO and risks in the environment. Aspects of toxic effects of various contaminants that occur in food: environmental contaminants, food additives, natural toxins or toxicants as a result of food processing. Mechanism of toxicity: metals, pesticides, plant toxins, hormones like anabolic compounds or natural plant compounds with hormonal action, artificial sweeteners and artificial coloring, industrial contaminants (PCBs, PBBs, PAH, etc.). Systemic toxic syndromes associated with mushroom poisoning. Seafood poisoning. Mechanisms of food ingredients action on the immune system. Mode of action of genotoxic substances and interaction of mutagens with cellular macromolecules. Use of food irradiation and risks: types of radiation, permitted doses, impact on food components. Toxicants in food as a result of food processing: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heterocyclic aromatic amines, premelanoidins from Maillard reaction, oxidation of lipids. Advantages and disadvantages of ozone application as an antimicrobial agent in food processing. Pesticides, metals and processing: conditions and possibilities of reducing their levels in prepared dishes. Inhibitors of bioavailability of minerals and proteins. Understanding toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of certain types of toxic substances.


  • define basic terms in ecotoxicology and classify and describe sources of environmental pollution as well as predict their behavior in the ecosystem with potential toxic effects on individual populations
  • single out and explain appropriate in vivo or in vitro test for toxicity determination and evaluate the risk
  • identify and classify toxicants and toxins which may be present in food, determine their origin, explain the mechanisms of their toxic effects and conclude about the potential harmful effects to human health
  • specify and describe process-induced food toxicants and suggest procedures for the reduction of their content as well as content of certain food contaminants in order to improve the quality of prepared food


lectures 10
seminars 10


1. Deshpande, S.S. (2002) Handbook of Food Toxicology, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York/Basel.
2. Omaye, S.T. (2004) Food and Nutritional Toxicology, CRC Press, Boca Raton.
3. Stadler, R.H., Lineback, D.R. (ured.) (2008) Process-Induced Food Toxicants: Occurrence, Formation, Mitigation, and Health Risks, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.
4. Walker, C.H., Hopkin, S.P., Sibly, R.M., Peakall, D.B. (1997) Principles of Ecotoxicology, Taylor & Francis, London.
5. Levin, S.A., Harwell, M.A., Kelly, J.B., Kimball, K.D. (ured.) (1989) Ecotoxicology: Problems and Approaches, Springer-Verlag, New York/Berlin.