Environmental Toxins – ASSESSMENT 2


Write a 3–4-page analysis on the impact of a selected toxin on human health.

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:

•Competency 2: Analyze the impact of contaminants in the environment to human health.

◦Analyze the impact of a toxic substance on human health.

◦Analyze possible sources of exposure to a toxic substance.

◦Analyze what happens when a toxin enters the environment.

◦Analyze the persistency of a specific toxic substance.

◦Analyze government recommendations for a specific toxic substance.

◦Analyze government recommendations for a specific toxic substance.

•Competency 4: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.

◦Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Assessment 2 Context

Determining Toxicity

Toxicity is determined by the following:

•Observing people during normal use or accidental exposure.

•Experimental studies using animals.

•Cellular studies.

Toxins can be divided into categories based on their potential harm to humans.

•Carcinogens are substances known to cause cancer.

•Endocrine disruptors are agents that bind with hormones, blocking their normal function.

•Teratogens are agents that cause malformation of a fetus through the mother.

Toxicologists are scientists that study toxins. They determine whether the toxins have any harmful effects on the environment or the human body. Toxicologists often describe toxins as either hazardous or poisonous. Hazardous substances are substances having the capacity to do harm. Poisonous substances are able to kill, injure, or impair living things with a small dose.

Assessing Risk

After determining that a substance is toxic, toxicologists and other scientists create risk assessment models. Risk assessment involves considering four steps:

•Identification of the hazard and its potential health effects.

•Dose-response (amount of

pollutant to which a person is exposed).

•Mode of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, absorption, and injection).

•Determination of overall risk based on dose response and exposure.

Cost-benefit analysis can be used to determine if a risk should be taken, and what strategies can be used to regulate and control the risk. In some cases, after a risk assessment, a risk will be determined unavoidable.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a government agency created in 1972 to address some products that have presented an unreasonable risk of injury. The CPSC requires safety labels, recalls hazardous products, and enforces bans upon them.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 400 Americans die each day due to injuries caused by accidents (2014). In fact, most people experience a significant injury at least once in their lifetime (Hilgenkamp, 2006). Although not all accidents can be avoided, understanding where the risks are, and taking steps to avoid them, is important to protecting our health.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in individuals between 1 and 44 years of age (CDC, 2006). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is charged with increasing safety on the roads by writing and enforcing safety laws. Seat belts, safety seats for children, air bags, and anti-lock brakes are just some of the devices that can make traveling in a motor vehicle safer. We can reduce our risk of a motor vehicle accident by following traffic laws, and always considering what is prudent based on the driving conditions.

Accidents can also occur when we are in our homes. Common occurrences involve falls, poisonings, accidental shootings, fires, and power equipment. Young children are particularly at risk, which is why child-proofing a home is so important. Cabinets with toxic materials, medicines, and guns should be locked. Matches and lighters should be kept in a safe place.


Concerns of hazards in the workplace led to the development of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s mission is to prevent injuries and protect the health of United States workers by ensuring safe and healthful places to work (United States Department of Labor, n.d.). The major areas of concern in the workplace are air contaminants (dust, fibers, gases, and vapors), and physical (temperature, noise, and radiation), biological (pathogens), and chemical (inhaled, absorbed, ingested, or injected) issues.


CDC. (2006, June 28). Deaths: Preliminary data for 2004. National Vital Statistics Reports, 54(19). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr54/nvsr54_19.pdf

Hilgenkamp, K. (2006). Environmental health: Ecological perspectives. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Healthy people.gov. Retrieved from http://healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx

United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). About OSHA. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/about.html


To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.

•What is the role of an environmental health professional?

•How do professionals define risks associated with environmental toxins?

•What is an example of one technique people use to detoxify the body? Have you, or would you, use such a technique?

•How has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?

•What is the role of the Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding product safety?

•Is your own workplace proactive when it comes to hazards?

•What are some ways occupational physical, biological, or chemical hazards could be decreased?

•What are the perceived risks of nanotechnology?

•How do the views of upstream scientists differ from downstream scientists, with respect to new technology like nanotechnology?

•What are the differences in scientific approaches to risk assessment?

Assessment Instructions

The purpose of this assessment is for you to learn how to summarize and critically evaluate a scientific paper on environmental toxins.

To begin, choose a toxin to research. Note: The CDC Web site and other materials listed in the Resources should provide you with a starting point in selecting a toxin.

Then, select at least two peer-reviewed articles about your chosen toxin to read carefully. Craft a 3–4-page analysis of the toxin’s impact on human health based on what you have learned. Address the following in your analysis:

•Highlight the main points presented in the articles you read. What message are the authors trying to convey about that toxin?

•Describe the possible sources of human exposure to this toxin, and analyze their risk.

•Analyze what happens when this toxin enters the environment.

•Analyze the persistency of this toxin.

•Analyze the federal government’s recommendations for protecting human health from this toxin.

•Describe what other sources of information say about these toxins.

◦Identify any discrepancies you found in your research.

◦If the authors have different perspectives, how might these differing views affect environmental health?

Your analysis should follow a logical structure and be evidence based. Use the MEAL Plan to help guide the organization of your analysis:

Main Idea: Present the main point or idea that you are making about the environmental toxin you studied.

Evidence: What does the research say? Support your statements with evidence from your research and personal experience.

Analysis: Summarize main ideas from articles related to the points outlined for this assessment. Compare and contrast the ideas of the authors of the two articles. Identify those ideas and facts that relate directly or indirectly to your main point. Make explicit links between source articles, your personal experience, and your current analysis.

Link: Integrate and combine information from the source articles and your personal experience to your main point or idea.

Additional Requirements

Written Communication: Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.

Length: This analysis should be 3–4 pages in content length. Include a separate title page and a separate references page.

Font and Font Size: Times New Roman, 12-point, double-spaced. Use Microsoft Word

Number of Resources: You are required to cite a minimum of 2 scholarly resources. You may conduct independent research for resources and references to support your analysis. Provide a reference list and in-text citations for all of your resources, using APA format. You may cite texts and authors from the Resources.

library RESOURCES:

•Carruth, R. S., & Goldstein, B. D. (2013). Environmental health law: An introduction. Somerset, NJ: Wiley.

•Friis, R. H. (2012). The Praeger handbook of environmental health. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

◦Volume 1: Foundations of the Field.

◦Chapter 14, “Environmental Health Risk Assessment.”

◦Chapter 16, “Significant Environmental Health Statutes and Key Regulations.”

◦Chapter 18, “Risk Communication and Environmental Health: Principles, Strategies, Tools, and Techniques.”

◦Volume 3: Water, Air and Solid Waste.

◦Chapter 11, “Risk Assessment for Air Pollutants.”

◦Chapter 1, “Workplace Hazards in the Chemical Industry.”

◦Chapter 2, “Bio-monitoring of Toxic Substances in the Workplace Environment: A Complex Diagnostic Scheme with Many Players.”

◦Chapter 3, “Reducing Hazards in the Workplace Environment.”

◦Chapter 8, “Work-Related Unintentional Injuries.”

•Rom, W. N. (2012). Environmental policy and public health: Air pollution, global climate change, and wilderness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

◦Chapter 1, “The Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.”

◦Chapter 17, “Toxic Chemicals in the Environment: Government Regulations and Public Health.”

•Powell, M. C. (2007, June). New risk or old risk, high risk or no risk? How scientists’ standpoints shape their nanotechnology risk frames. Health, Risk & Society, 9(2), 173–190.

Internet Resources

•CDC. (2014). Agency for toxic substances and disease registry. Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/

•United States Department of Labor. (2014). Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/


•Hilgenkamp, K. (2006). Environmental health: Ecological perspectives. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

◦Chapter 5, “Environmental Toxins and Toxicology.” This chapter introduces you to terminology related to toxicology, the potential harmful effects of both natural and manufactured chemicals, the role of an environmental health professional, and how professionals define risks associated with environmental toxins.

◦Chapter 6, “Environmental Health, Risk Assessment, and Intervention.” This chapter will help you understand the role of federal agencies and laws in protecting environmental health. You will also begin building an understanding of risk assessment and risk management.

◦Chapter 16, “Injury and Safety Issues.” This chapter will help you understand the history of injury prevention, the major types of injuries in and out of the home, and the role of the Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding product safety.

◦Chapter 17, “Occupational Health and Safety.” This chapter addresses the role and scope of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, common work site hazards, and the role of safety specialists.



The Assignment

You are a researcher employed by the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Your task is to

examine NanoStatic (based upon the information given above) and describe its unethical practices as well as any strong connections to the current government; you are to present this in a report will address the following:

• Identify the major ethical and legal issues that the corporation has faced or is currently facing?

• What have been the advantages to NanoStatic of the past policies implemented by the corporation?

• What have been the disadvantages to NanoStatic and its stakeholders of the past policies implemented by the corporation?

• Has the corporation demonstrated social responsibility?

• Has the corporation been consistent and balanced in its responses to stakeholder issues?   Does the corporation have an ethical culture?

• What ethical challenges do you think that the corporation will face in the future?

• Has NanoStatic developed appropriate exposure measurement methods for carbon nanotubes and applied effective control and containment protocols? Why or why not?

• Recommendations to your client as to how to use this information to embarasss NanoStatic and the current government.

The Case:

Nano Static

Company History:

The company was incorporated in May of 1984 by founders Carter Knight and Lillian Horn, both graduate students at the University of Waterloo.  The company moved to its current location in Burlington, ON in 2001. The company manufactures laser and LED printers and semiconductor devices. It is one of the few microprocessor manufacturers to have developed and utilised nanolithography.

Current work has resulted in the development of carbon nanotube field-effect transistors, devices that may pave the way to quantum computing. The mass production of CNFETs is expected to occur during the third quarter of 2011. Major research into quantum computing is being performed by the company at the Waterloo Laboratories in co-operation with the Institute of Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.

Corporate Operations: Headquarters: Burlington ON Waterloo Laboratories: Waterloo ON

Sales Offices: Toronto, London, New York

Production Facilities: Kitchener ON; Kolkata, India; Yangon, Myanmar

Employees: 1,300

Revenue: $900 million USD (2010)

Ethical Issues:

In 1999, five accusations of sexual harassment were made against Carter Knight; two of these involved graduate students at the Waterloo Laboratories facility and one involved an undergraduate student intern; the remaining accusations were made by full time female employees of the company. Carter denied all wrongdoing. In the end, all of the accusations were not pursued through the human rights tribunal of Ontario. The three students now have permanent positions at Waterloo Laboratories and the two employees have resigned, though it appears that they received very generous severance packages. It has been speculated that the corporate move of its headquarters from Waterloo to Burlington (the company is now located in an industrial park close to the QEW) was initiated to remove Carter from close proximity to graduate students.

Lillian Horn, Raymond Horn (her brother), John Smythe (local politician), and Kevin Davies (Raymond Horn’s brother-in-law) were charged with insider trading in 2002. Subsequently, the Crown withdrew the charges against Lillian and Raymond Horn, but prosecuted Davies. Davies was found guilty and served 2 years in prison. It is estimated that the three individuals charges earned a combined $320 million CAD in the stock transaction that initiated the investigation and charges.

NanoStatic has a history of aggressive rewards for high producers within its salesforce and “questionable benefits” for its client base. These include, but are not limited to; suspected monetary “kickbacks” to major buyers e.g. BuyMore Inc; vacation trips; product launch events (that appear to be more weekend

all-expenses-paid holidays for major buyers); the provision of illegal/grey legal goods and services for major clients and buyers (e.g. the supplying of illegal drugs and prostitutes). Outside sources have criticised that the sale of NanoStatic printers is largely fuelled by their policies that, in essence, bribe clients/buyers to purchase their products.

The company use of bribery is more transparent and blatant in their developing world manufacturing operations. Although environmental and labour legislation are not as stringent in India and Myanmar, NanoStatic has made effective use of bribery and political influence to circumvent the regulations that do exist. There is strong evidence that dumping of toxic industrial materials occurred frequently at both the Kolkata and Yangon manufacturing plants. NGO watchdog groups claim that there was a major industrial accident at the Yangon plant four years ago involving mercury chloride that immediately effected the local water supply; the NGO groups also claim that NanoStatic paid to have this accident “hushed up”. It is claimed that over 2,500 people had been exposed to mercury poisoning due to the

accident. NGO watchdog groups also claim that NanoStatic played a major role, in co-operation with the local authorities, in resisting an attempt to unionise the Kolkata plant, through the murder of union organisers and threats made to the plant employees by the police. In addition, 40% of the workforce at the Kolkata plant are child labourers.

The Auditor General has called into question government spending that involved contracts with NanoStatic. In all three contracts, it would appear that NanoStatic has charged the federal government in excess; though the company has supplied reasons for these actions, the documents released only muddy the situation – i.e. they have created no clarity, only more confusion. Similar questions have been asked by the provincial governments of Nova Scotia and Ontario as well as by the municipal government of Kitchener-Waterloo.

The new assembly facility at the company’s Kitchener plant has passed with Health and Safety Ontario, though some workers claim that they are not confident that the company has really complied with all of the required regulations – it has been stated that NanoStatic has only created the illusion of compliance. Given that the facility will be producing CNFETs (carbon nanotube field-effect transistors) and that carbon nanotubes can have a similar (and potentially more damaging) effect on the body as does asbestos the concerns raised by the workers are valid. NanoStatic states that all proper precautions have been taken within the existing regulations. The union states that these are new technologies and the existing regulations are inadequate. The Minister of Labour and the MPP for Kitchener-Centre held a press

conference at the NanoStatic plant in Kitchener to officially open the plant and dismiss any concerns over worker safety – NanoStatic was a major contributor to the campaign funds of both of these politicians.

One of the NanoStatic research scientists on this new product line has voiced concerns that inadequate containment has been used in the design that could put the consumer at risk. She has been promoted into middle management and transferred to the company’s Kolkata plant.