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 SM05 5S358


A good knowledge of basic chemistry, ecology, general and cell biology are important requisites for this course.

Development of the course

The course is based on theoretical lessons, presentation of case-studies, and specific insights through seminars and integrative lessons given by national experts.

Learning outcomes

The Course Biological and Ecological Risk is aimed to prepare students on the more actual methodologies to assess, prevent, monitor and counteract various forms of biological and environmental risk. The course will prepare students on the risk of bioterrorism, focussing on differences between biological and chemical weapons, biological mechanisms and toxicological effects. The course will also prepare students on general characteristics, diffusions, environmental resistance, infection, incubation and pathogenesis, diagnosis, bio-safety procedures and management of the risk associated to other natural biological risks, including aviarian pests and pandemic risks, and biotoxins associated to specific algal blooms. Students will be trained on some toxicological emergencies which occurred in the last decades analyzing procedures and events, acute effects and long term consequences at both biological and environmental levels. Normative guidelines and models for Environmental Risk Analysis (ERA) will be discussed and applied to actual issues, like those involving removal and management options of contaminated sediments. The Course will introduce students to management and assessment of biological and ecological risks during recent environmental emergencies, including oil-spills, discharges of toxic wastes in the sea, nuclear incidents.

Ability to apply the knowledge:The student will have the capability to apply received knowledges for the planning and the management of several typologies of emergencies (bioterrorist attacks, pandemic events, biotoxins, industrial and nuclear incidents, oil spills and discharges into the sea), for the risk perception and assessment, for the identification of critical points, adequate monitoring controls, for the decisional and gestional measures.

Soft skills:
Beside the different typologies of risk analysed during the course, transversal competences include various aspects and phases related to characterization and management of risk, such as the origin and source of the risk, diffusion within environmental matrices and transfer to humans, mechanisms of action and eco-toxicological effects, possibility of diffusion and propagation of the damage, protocols of action, control and remediation, prevention


Modern bioterrorism, origin and characteristics. Comparison between chemical and biological weapons. Biological weapons of type A, B, C. Main biological characteristics, diffusion, environmental resistance, infection, incubation and pathogenesis, biological mechanisms of action, clinical aspects, diagnosis and therapies, bio-safety procedures, depuration and remediation. Type A agents: anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism, viruses of hemorrhagic fevers, tularemia. Chemical weapons, physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics. Primary and collateral biological effects, NOEL, LOEL, LOAEL, LC50 Ct, LCt50. General properties, stability, diffusion, exposure routes, biological mechanism of action and toxicological effects, antidotes and therapies of: blister agents, Blood agents, Nerve agents, Pulmonary agents, Incapacitating agents, Riot control agents. Biological risks and recent sanitary emergencies; aviarian pest and pandemic risks. Toxic algae and biotoxin during algal blooms; classification, molecular structure, toxicological effects, environmental distribution and biological risks. Toxicological, biological and ecological emergencies in developing and industrialized countries. The Bophal disaster, characteristics, acute and chronic effects, toxicological and sanitary consequences after 20 years. Risks from nuclear radiations, type of radiation, exposure sources, deterministic and stochastic effects. Biological and environmental consequences of Hiroshima and Chernobyl. Uranium decay and characteristics of isotopes. Use of enriched and depleted uranium and biological and ecological risks associated to depleted uranium in weapons. The risks of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, dangerous substances, industries of high environmental concerns, introduction to Seveso Directives. Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) and Weight Of Evidence (WOE) models. Dredging and remediation of polluted sites. Environmental emergencies due to oil-spills and discharge of toxic wastes; biological and ecological risks associated to use of chemical dispersants. Critical evaluation of recent incidents, Erika, Ievoli Sun, Prestige, Deep Water Horizon).

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The examination is oral, based on questions and following discussion related to the main risks of biological nature, those arising from industrial or nuclear incidents, marine and maritime emergencies, ecological risk.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
During the examination, it will be evaluated the capability of the student to properly answer and discuss various issues, the general competence on problematics, the use of appropriate terminology, the capability to move from a topic to another one and make transversal links.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
The final assessment is made of thirty. The examination is considered as passed with a vote of 18/30 or higher. The student can decide to decline the proposed vote and give again the examination in the following session.

Criteria for conferring final mark:
The final assessment will be given depending on the capability of the student to answer all the questions, general competence and ability to properly discuss various issues.

Recommended reading

Provided material and scientific literature suggested on specific topics.

  • Rischio ambientale e protezione civile

Università Politecnica delle Marche
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