Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 8
Hours 64
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code ST03 3S443


Knowledge of general and organic chemistry, general and cell biology, biodiversity is important requisites for this course.

Development of the course

The course will include theoretical lectures (7 credits, 56 hours) and laboratory practical exercises in small groups (1 credit, 8 hours). The course is supported by didactic materials in electronic format for both the lectures and practical lessons

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the students will have to acquire: the knowledge of the main classes of environmental contaminants in terms of chemical/physical characteristics, distribution in environmental matrices, bioaccumulation, bioavailability, biomagnification, their metabolism/ detoxification and toxicity in organisms; knowledge of bioassay importance and their application to test various environmental matrices; the knowledge of the main biological responses (biomarkers) in bioindicator organisms including the metabolism/detoxification mechanisms of organic contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides and organohalogenated compounds, the alterations of antioxidant defenses, the onset of oxidative stress, the alterations of the lysosomal membranes and damages to important biological macromolecules including lipids and DNA; the knowledge of environmental economics aspects and legislation concerning the assessment of environmental impact.

Ability to apply the knowledge. At the end of the course the students must be able to apply an "ecotoxicological" approach in environmental monitoring, consisting of chemical and biological analysis integration, also from the practical point of view, thanks to practice exercises performed in the laboratory. In addition, students will be able to apply correctly the regulation on environmental impact assessment.

Soft skills. At the end of the course and laboratory activities the students will be able to demonstrate an independent judgment on the interpretation of analytical data resulting from "ecotoxicological" approach; in addition the increase in communication skills is also resulting from the groups activities done during laboratory attendance.


Theoretical lessons (7 CFU, 56 h) will cover the following topics:
Introduction and definition of ecotoxicology, distribution of chemicals in the environment and factors which affect their toxicity (bioavailability, biomagnification). Toxicity Tests: general procedures, interpretation and applicability of results, examples of most commonly used tests for waters and sediments. 
Ecotoxicological approach in the environment; biomonitoring, biological resources and impact assessment. Choice of bioindicator organisms. Biological effects of chemicals, biomarkers at molecular, biochemical and cellular levels. Biotransformation and toxicity of aromatic xenobiotics. Detoxification and toxicity of trace metals. Role of lysosomes in detoxification and in pollutant-mediated pathologies. Antioxidant defences and oxidative stress induced by pollutants. Environmental genotoxicity and DNA damages as biomarkers. Immunotoxicity in invertebrates and fish. Endocrine disruptors and Emerging pollutants (pharmaceuticals and microplastics). Liver pathology and chemical carcinogenesis. Biological and environmental factors which influence responses of biomarkers, basal levels, species sensitivity, adaptation mechanisms. Atmospheric and soil pollution. Elements of pollution economy, assessment, management and legislation of environmental pollution. Main tools for the implementation of the EU environmental policies. REACH regulation: Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. Definition and design of an environmental impact assessment, main normative guidelines for VIA and VAS (environmental and strategic impact assessment). The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Summary of Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (IPPC). Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/CE for a Good Marine Environmental Status

Laboratory activities (1 CFU 8 h):
During the practical exercitations, students will plan a presentation of the main analytical methods and sample preparation; evaluation of some biomarkers and analysis of the obtained results.

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
Oral examination in which the students must respond adequately to the questions of the exam Committee.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
During the oral exam, the students must demonstrate that they have acquired basic knowledge about the main issues concerning the ecotoxicology and environmental impact assessment.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
The final mark is assigned in a scale of thirty. The exam is passed when the score is equal or greater than 18. It is expected to be awarded the highest marks with honors (30 cum laude).

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
The final grade is awarded according to the answers adequacy to the questions proposed by the examining committee.
The honors (cum laude) will be given when the students will demonstrate full mastery of the subject, the correct use of terminology and the ability to make connections, where it is possible, between the various topics.

Recommended reading

Lecture notes
Slides on the topics carried out
Scientific literature suggested at the beginning of the course
M.C. Newman. Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology, The Science of Pollution. 4th Edition. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.
Proceedings of the study day “Indagini ecotossicologiche negli ambienti marini costieri in riferimento al D.L. 152/99” Biologia Marina Mediterranea 2001 ISSN 112-4245
Legislative decree 3 april 2006, n. 152 “Norme in materia ambientale” published in Gazzetta Ufficiale n. 88 14 aprile 2006- Ordinary supplement n. 96, updated with the Law 6 august 2015, Gazzetta Ufficiale n. 188 14 august 2015


  • Scienze ambientali e protezione civile

Università Politecnica delle Marche
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