Environmental toxicology is related to study of various effects of synthetic and natural pollutants in the environment. It is also known as entox. It is mainly related to the study of anthropogenic origin environmental chemicals. Environmental toxicology is categorized into two types namely Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health Toxicology.
- Ecotoxicology: It is the study of the harmful effects of the toxic chemicals on biological organisms. It effects mainly on the community, biosphere and ecosystem level.
- Environmental Health Toxicology: It mainly deals with the study of adverse and harmful effects of environmental chemicals on human health.
Environmental degradation is caused due to institutional, socio-economical and technological activities. It is the deterioration of the environment through the depletion of resources like water, air, and soil. Here both biotic and abiotic processes contribute to the degradation of the environment.
Abiotic Degradation: It is a prominent process that mainly occurs under the influences of hydrolysis and photolysis.
- Hydrolysis: Hydrolytic reactions is the reaction of water with another chemical compound to form two or more products involving usually splitting the other compound. In simple terms when water combines with heat or light energy it can break chemical bonds, this process is known as hydrolysis.
- Photolysis: It mainly occurs on surface waters or in the atmosphere where the intensity of light is at its highest. Photolysis is a chemical process by which molecules are broken down into smaller parts or units through the absorption of light.
Biotic Degradation: Microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria are prime factors responsible for biotic degradation. These microorganisms degrade chemicals to obtain energy from these sources. It occurs at a highly accelerated rate, far exceeding abiotic degradation. It is a process that can completely lead to mineralization of chemicals to carbon dioxide, water, and other basic inorganic constituents. Bioremediation is a process wherein microorganisms are used to mitigate environmental contaminants.
Bioaccumulation: It is a process where organisms accumulate themselves with chemicals from dietary sources or from an abiotic environment. And through passive diffusion, these organisms take in these toxic chemical substances. Some of the primary organs that uptake this toxic includes gastrointestinal tract, gills, and lungs. But other organs such as scales, skin, feathers, fur, etc. acts as a protective barrier against various chemical toxic.