The plumes of acrid black smoke billow from a smoke stack at a Paper Mill located in a small rural town. The local residents have been breathing this foul sulfur smelling air for years; how has it affected their health, their children’s health, what are the long term health effects of living in this environment? These are the questions that an Environmental Toxicologist can answer.
Many new chemicals are introduced into our environment every year, some more obvious; as industrial byproducts, others subtly; as additives in the suntan lotions we use daily and some are naturally occurring. Some remain in the environment as harmless chemicals; others accumulate in plants and animals which humans consume. An Environmental Toxicologist studies the mechanism by which these chemicals damage living tissues, the health risks associated with exposure to and the way plants and animals protect themselves from exposure. Environmental Toxicologists develop ways to counter act the adverse effects of the chemicals lessening the harmful effects of exposure.
Who is the Environmental Toxicologist?
An Environmental Toxicologist conducts research, run tests and designs experiments to measure toxins in water, air, soil or any medium where toxins can accumulate. An Environmental Toxicologist spends time in the laboratory or in the field collecting samples or data, making physical observations culminating in written reports that present the findings.
Environmental Toxicologists also work in concert with other environmental scientists, biologist, and engineers to solve complex health and environmental problems.
Starting a career as an Environmental Toxicologist is not difficult if you have the right academic background. An academic background with a Masters Degree in Toxicology or a closely related field like chemistry, biology, physiology, pharmacology or pharmacy from an accredited university can land you a job working in the environmental toxicology field. If you do not have a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree in one of the related fields can still provide you with the education required to be an Environmental Toxicologist. Although with your bachelors degree you will need some prior experience working in the environmental field.
Salaries for Environmental Toxicologists are considered attractive with entry level salaries ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 annually, average salaries range from $50,000 to $65,000 annually and high level salaries starting at $75,000 and above annually.
What do kind of Work do Environmental Toxicologists do?
Research: As an Environmental Toxicologist you could find yourself researching possible exposure routes of toxins utilizing both laboratory animals and epidemiological studies. Researcher opportunities exist in industry, government and academia.
Product Safety and Evaluation: Some Environmental Toxicologists can be found evaluating the safety of specific products; cosmetics, drugs and household chemicals.
Teaching: Opportunities to teach others the Environmental Toxicology field in Universities and colleges.
Public Service and Regulatory Affairs: Environmental Toxicologists assist in the writing and implementing of public policies and regulations relating to exposure to chemicals in the environment.
Where do Environmental Toxicologists work?
Environmental Toxicologists can be found working in Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Support Industries as Air pollution analysts and Product Safety Specialists. Environmental Toxicologists also work in academic institutions; as Teachers and Professors, in the Government Sector; as Policy Analysts, for the EPA and in professional services; as consultants and expert witnesses.
A career in Environmental Toxicologist is very fulfilling as you use your learned skills daily to solve complex problems. You get the satisfaction of working on projects from their inception to their conclusion. The biggest reward in being an Environmental Toxicologist is in knowing that your work is benefiting your community, your environment and the future of human health issues both locally and globally.