Environmental Health Sciences
Geoffrey I. Scott, Chair
Dwayne E. Porter, Associate Chair and Director of Graduate Studies
The environmental health sciences examine the interactions between humans and their environment. Human activities impact on environmental quality and environmental factors, and, in turn, are principal determinants of human health. Exploration of these complex interactions often combines elements of both pure and applied sciences, e.g., biology, chemistry, marine sciences, geology, engineering, public health, and medicine.
Faculty members of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences (ENHS) have expertise in a broad range of disciplines necessary to solving the vexing and complex problems in environmental health sciences. Our expertise includes air pollution, nanosciences, mammalian toxicology, environmental and health-related microbiology, aquatic ecology, marine ecotoxicology, ecosystem modeling, risk and impact assessment, exposure analysis, environmental planning and engineering, environmental physiology, industrial hygiene, occupational epidemiology, landscape ecology, remote sensing and GIS, water quality and wastewater treatment, wetlands ecology, resource management, and environmental justice.
The mission of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences is founded on the philosophy that healthy environments enhance the health and well-being of individuals and the communities in which they live. Thus the broader goals of the department are to:
- develop improved methods for assessing the health and quality of the environment
- promote a clearer understanding of interactions between humans and their natural, home, and work environments
- achieve molecular to landscape levels of resolution for understanding health/environment interactions
- protect the natural resources upon which life depends
- provide scientifically sound information for policymakers to encourage social awareness of and societal actions toward sustaining a healthy relationship with the environment.
The Department of Environmental Health Sciences offers the following degrees: Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). A common level of core public health training is completed prior to undertaking advanced study and research.
Master of Public Health (MPH)
The MPH degree is oriented toward development of a broad background in public health and preparation for professional practice. The MPH degree requires 42 credit hours of study and is practice-oriented. MPH students complete a supervised internship (practicum) in lieu of a thesis.
Master of Science (MS)
The MS degree is an academic research degree which may be tailored to individual interests and job market needs. The MS degree requires a minimum of 36 graduate hours and combines real-world problem solving and research skills with other technical, health, and related skills to prepare effective environmental health researchers for the public and private sectors. Students complete a research thesis.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Doctoral students complete a program of study that emphasizes professional development, scientific competence, and research expertise. The PhD requires a minimum of 60 hours of course work beyond the baccalaureate and includes 12 credit hours of dissertation preparation. Those students entering without a master’s degree are required to take additional foundation course work in environmental health sciences equivalent to the master’s degree. To achieve doctoral candidate status, students must pass a qualifying examination after the first year of study. Upon completion of all course and language requirements, doctoral candidates must pass an oral and/or written comprehensive examination. All doctoral candidates must prepare and defend a dissertation that represents significant research in their area of advanced study. Doctoral students must demonstrate a reading proficiency in a modern foreign language if deemed necessary by the doctoral advisory committee.
Department Admission Requirements
Application forms for admission to the MPH, MS and PhD graduate programs in Environmental Health Sciences may be obtained at http://gradschool.sc.edu/gap. Applicants should submit an application packet through the School of Public Health Application Service (http://www.sophas.org). Individuals who wish to pursue graduate work in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences must meet or exceed the general admission requirements of The Graduate School and the following departmental requirements:
- grade point average of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale
- evidence of previous training/experience in a pure or applied scientific discipline
- minimum score of 310 (new scoring) or 1050 (old scoring) (verbal plus quantitative) on the Graduate Record Examination
- completion of a minimum of 24 hours of science-based courses to include the following for the MPH degree: college algebra, pre-calculus, chemistry (general; quantitative-organic chemistry also desirable), biology (general, plus advanced courses)
- completion of a baccalaureate degree with 120 hours of science-based courses or equivalent for the MS, MPH, and PhD degrees to include:
- a minimum of 60 hours in physical or life sciences, mathematics, engineering, and/or technology
- at least 15 hours of the 60 hours in upper level junior, senior, or graduate level courses
- 21 or more semester hours in communication, humanities, and social sciences.
Applicants must submit the following:
- Graduate Record Examination scores
- official transcripts
- brief statement (maximum of two pages) that describes professional and educational objectives, work experiences, and activities applicable to the proposed plan for graduate study
- three letters of recommendation.
Applicants who do not meet all of the above requirements but who possess overall potential may be considered for conditional admission. Applicants should submit an application packet through the School of Public Health Application Service (www.sophas.org) unless advised otherwise by the Office of Academic Affairs.
Doctor of Philosophy
Applicants to the Ph.D. program must meet the above requirements and in addition must have at least baccalaureate degree in a pure or applied scientific discipline applicable to the environmental health sciences and from a university-accredited by a regional accrediting agency. Individuals with prior performance at the master’s level are preferred. A personal interview may also be required.
Introduction to emergency preparedness and response in relation to environmental and public health. Historical context for the emergence of public health emergency preparedness and demonstration of articulation with community response partner agencies in the post-9/11 era.
Emerging issues and topics concerning environmental health. May be repeated as content varies by title up to a total of 9 credit hours.
Advanced study of infectious diseases caused by fungi. Etiology, symptoms, and treatment of fungi related illnesses.
Cross-listed course: BIOL 625
Environmental health sciences presenting the earth as a complex system in which people, plants, animals, and non-living physical-chemical components interact.
Analysis, planning, and implementation of programs to protect workers’ health in industry; legislative and regulatory background.
"State of the art" molecular techniques that elucidate mechanisms of environmental contaminants in model systems.
Effect of bacterial biofilm process on many diverse areas. Recognition, prevention, and control of biofilm-related problems in the environment, health care, industry, and engineering.
Trace metal(loid)s, their fate and transport in the environment and their potential impacts on human health.
Overview of environmental pollutants and their impact on human health; case studies of environmental catastrophes; principles of ecotoxicology; air, water, and land pollution associated with neurotoxicity, toxicology, and carcinogenesis.
A receptor-oriented approach for assessing human exposure to environmental contaminants by inhalation, dermal and ingestion routes. Covers methods for estimating exposures to protect health and well-being, to relate adverse effects to exposures, and to comply with regulations and guidelines.
Ecological theories as the basis for environmental change and the (re)emergence of infectious agents that ultimately impact human and ecosystem health.
Introduction to ergonomics: hazards identification and analysis; solution design and implementation; human musculoskeletal characteristics, injuries; effects of work on performance, safety, and health. Application to manufacturing and office environments.
Fundamental principles of environmental nanoscience: unique properties of nanomaterials, syntheses and characterization of nanomaterials, and key processes determining their environmental fate and behavior of nanomaterials.
Explores the intersection between conservation and environmental health with a particular focus on coastal and marine case studies.
Cross-listed course: MSCI 755
Chemical and physical aspects of air pollution and their regulatory problems. An examination of air pollution sources; physical and chemical processes affecting pollutants after emission; pollutants and their effects and the ultimate fate of pollutants. Attention is also given to the legal, administrative, and technical aspects of air pollution control.
Lethal and sublethal effects of environmental stressors on organisms living in the water column and in sediments of aquatic systems. Practical techniques of aquatic toxicology, risk assessment and modeling.
Industrial hygiene, including health effects, occupational health standards, and the evaluation and control of occupational health hazards.
Emphasizes the medical aspects of exposure to hazardous materials, accidents, and mental and physical stresses on the job. Clinical spectrum of occupational illness with some emphasis on industrial toxicology.
Fate, transformation, and behavior of pollutants in the atmosphere. Exposure and human health impacts of atmospheric particles.
Current and prospective research associated with the multi-disciplinary areas of environmental health sciences. Critical evaluation of scientific research, and technical writing and oral presentations.
The quantitative application of principles of basic physical, biological, and geochemical principles in assessing and solving environmental problems in lakes, streams, and wetlands. Emphasis on watershed-water quality interactions, trophic state analyses, wasteload impact prediction, toxic chemical fate and transport, wetland values, and classification.
Sampling and analysis of the interacting parameters used in assessing water quality and the functioning of aquatic systems.
Concepts in systems ecology and ecological modeling. Emphasis on the use of models and computer simulations in examining environmental interactions, predicting environmental impact, and facilitating the process of environmental planning. Lab practice in model development and computer simulation analysis.
Control of chemical and physical hazards in the occupational environment. Course covers principles and design of health protection systems such as ventilation systems, collection mechanisms, control of physical factors (excluding radioactivity).
Microbial processes which alter the fate, bioavailability, and toxicity of environmental pollutants: biotransformations of metals and organic pollutants; resistance mechanisms and roles of microbial biofilms in toxin transfer.
Environmental Health Sciences Seminar is a one credit course that provides the opportunity for graduate students within the department and other related departments/programs to enhance and broaden their knowledge in environmental health by exploring current research and case studies.
Focuses on history, theory, and practice of predicting, managing, and communicating potential human health and environmental risks of hazardous chemicals. Reviews fundamental components and explores uncertainties, probabilistic approaches, and ‘real-world’ challenges of risk analysis.
Physics of radiation and associated health hazards; hazard evaluation and measurements; radiation content and protection of the individual. Course covers ionizing radiation, ultraviolet, microwave, lasers, R.F. field, and ultra-sound.
A study of biological interactions and transformation of environmental toxicants at the cellular and subcellular levels, and assessment of cellular damage as it relates to health hazards and risks. Topics to include: environmental toxicants; exposure measurements; factors affecting interactions and toxicity; metabolism of xenobiotics: types and levels of effects and interactions; and human health risks.
Review of ecological principles as applied to environmental impact assessment. Study of the mandates of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Analysis of several impact assessment methodologies.
Introduction to environmental planning. Survey of major federal environmental legislation. Review of processes and techniques of environmental planning including zoning, permits, management plans, assessments, and evaluation methods. Case studies of significant environmental projects.
Sources, sinks, transport, and transformation of air pollutants. Health effects that occur directly or by intermediate transport. Current monitoring methods and modeling techniques for air pollution.
Lecture and laboratory investigations concerning sublethal and lethal physiological responses of aquatic organisms to a variety of environmental pollutants. Stresses the in-depth understanding of the effects of: bacterial and thermal pollution, pesticides/herbicides, industrial chemicals, hazardous materials, and petroleum hydrocarbons on different physiological mechanisms.
A critical review of recent advances and case histories in the formulation and use of ecological/ environmental models. Ecosystems analysis and environmental planning.
Literature reviews and applications in evaluation of hazards and design of ergonomic interventions including human factors in information processing, design of displays and controls, vibration, macroergonomics, fatigue, and shiftwork.
Physical and chemical principles of environmental qualitative and quantitative analysis with emphasis on atmospheric, aquatic, and terrestrial samples. Includes use and limitations of instrumental techniques, sampling strategies, data management and reduction, and quality assurance programs.
Chemical and physical principles of multimedia contaminant transport, environmental effects of hazardous materials, statutes and regulations classification, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials.
Chemical and physical properties of hazardous materials; use and storage; disposal options; transportation requirements; site safety considerations; management systems involving hazardous materials.
Content varies by title. Course may be repeated for a total of 6 credit hours.
The course is intended to develop theoretical and practical knowledge in environmental science research. The learning formats will permit focus on areas of interest as a means to develop the research skills for later projects. Guided by focus, students may work in the laboratory, field, and/or use existing data.
Problems associated with coastal population growth and development. Emphasis is on the working group approach to ameliorating impacts on ecosystem and human health.
Cross-listed course: MSCI 795
Laboratory based course aimed at developing theoretical and practical knowledge in regards to nanoscience in toxicology and in the environment. Students will perform nanoparticle syntheses, characterization, fate and behavior studies or toxicology exposures. Learning formats will permit focus on areas of interest aimed at developing research skills.
Global environmental health with a focus on food security in developing nations, including crop responses to warming, soil changes, more variable precipitation inputs and expanding geographical range of pests.
Performance of a limited work or service project in a public need setting, pursuit of planned learning objectives related to previously identified aspects of the student’s chosen role. Self-monitoring and regular seminars focusing on learning accomplishments.
Technical coverage relevant to a practical evaluation of radiation sources and contaminants in the environment.
Physical and chemical principles applied to the behavior and properties of particles suspended in air. Course covers motion under applied forces, electrical properties, diffusion, removal from gas, cloud dynamics, and optical properties.
Detailed analyses of techniques, especially computer simulation modeling, used in environmental assessment and planning. Emphasis will be on the prediction of the ecological effects of development projects. Students will collectively construct a simulation model for the purpose of environmental assessment.
Overview of skills and standards, including ethics and research preparation, for Environmental Health Sciences doctoral students.
Prerequisite: one full year (18 hrs) of graduate study beyond the master’s level.