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Eco-toxicology – History, Principles, Harmful Effects of Eco-toxicology
Science & Nature

Eco-toxicology – History, Principles, Harmful Effects of Eco-toxicology

Definition of Eco-toxicology

Eco-toxicology is the study of environmental pollution, toxic effects of chemical or physical agents on organisms and communities.

According to the World Health Organization, toxicology is the discipline that studies those chemical and physical agents that can damage biological systems.

This knowledge emerged in the nineteenth century by observing the relationship between certain work activities and exposure to harmful substances.

Over time, toxicology affected the environment, and a specific branch emerged Eco-toxicology.

The same term tells us its meaning since it includes three elements: eco equals ecosystem, toxic comes from the Latin toxicum and means poison, and logy comes from logos, which means knowledge.

Science studies the effects of chemical, physical, and biological factors on all living things: microorganisms, plants, and animals. It is the study of the impact of pollutants on ecosystems.

Historical facts about Eco-toxicology

  • Eco-toxicology is a recent discipline at the interface of ecology and toxicology.
  • It emerged from environmental toxicology that occurred shortly after World War II, which was concerned with toxic substances on the environment.
  • The term “eco-toxicology” appears for the first time in 1969 from the pen of the French toxicologist René Truhaut.
  • Eco-toxicology studies the behavior and the effects of polluting agents on ecosystems.
  • Whether they are artificial origin agents (drugs, endocrine disruptors, etc.) or natural agents, humans modify the biosphere’s distribution or cycles in different compartments.
  • After the Second World War, concern about the harmful effects of toxic substances on the environment grew.
  • One trigger was the realization that the pesticide DDT, which was initially considered harmless, can negatively affect fish and birds’ stocks, among others.
  • With the 1962 book Silent Spring by the American biologist Rachel Carson, the general public became aware of the possible adverse effects of unchecked pesticide use on the environment.

General principles about Eco-toxicology

  • Eco-toxicology is the study of environmental pollution in all its dimensions, its origin, its evolution, and its effects on ecosystems.
  • In this branch of toxicology, it is an ecosystem like a living organism.
  • Consequently, it is necessary to identify the harmful substances in the tropic chains and know their effects on living beings.
  • The organisms living are essential to assess the quality environment because all living faces background changes.

Harmful Effects of Eco-toxicology

  • The harmful effect of a toxic compound on an organism depends on several factors.
  • The ability to generate a damaging effect and the degree of exposure are some of the factors.
  • Toxic substances have their mobility mechanisms, and, therefore, professionals in this discipline analyze the origin and destination of these substances.
  • Some toxins degrade spontaneously, but others end up in the subsoil, water, or directly in living beings.
  • Moreover, Eco-toxicological effects from the molecule to the population present, through concrete examples.
  • Recent research results, concepts, methods make it possible to understand, explain and predict the impact of chemical pollutants from the cell to the population

Specific chemical molecules synthesized in laboratories effects the environment

  • Toxic substances used in crops to control pests have effects on human health.
  • One of the most damaging elements is phthalates, which maintains plastic containers’ flexibility.
  • The toxins accumulated in the environment are directly related to all kinds of diseases, allergies, cancer, male infertility, respiratory problems, etc.
  • Some investigations carried out from newborns’ blood showed highly polluting substances such as heavy metals or pesticides.
  • However, studies on male fertility have found a direct relationship between toxic substances in the environment and reduced sperm counts.

Tasks of Eco-toxicology

  • Eco-toxicology essentially serves to identify hazards at all organizational levels of biology.
  • From the molecules’ level (such as DNA ), cells, tissues, organs, populations right up to ecosystems and the biosphere.
  • The eco-toxicological studies’ results form the basis for identifying and evaluating substances concerning their risks for living beings, communities, and the environment.
  • However, to deal with the various questions in Eco-toxicology, very different investigation methods have been developed.
  • Some of which are used in the laboratory but also in nature itself.
  • The laboratory carries out standardized tests with high reproducibility.
  • The significance of which can be low concerning the natural environment with an infinite number of interactions.
  • In these investigations, the concentration of an organism species is impaired concerning the observed effect.

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