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The Effect of Risk and Toxicology on Human Health: A Science and Health Lesson Plan

written by: blion23 • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 1/6/2012

What are the types of hazards that people face everyday? What is health toxicology and how do scientists measure it? How can risks be estimated, managed and reduced to provide the best allocation of finite resources? This science and health lesson plan will answer these questions for your students.

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    A Science/Health Lesson Plan for High School

    Subject: Risk and Toxicology

    Grade: 9th-10th grade

    Duration: 60 minutes-75 minutes

    Objectives: Students will be able to:

    • Understand the differences in risks
    • Complete a chart showing comparisons of various risks and hazards
    • Differentiate between risks and hazards
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    What Are Risks and Hazards?

    To begin this science and health lesson plan, ask the class what activities they would generally characterize as risks. As a teacher, you can possibly give a few suggestions such as smoking and alcohol abuse. Using these suggestions, ask the pupils why these activities are risky. Write these suggestions on an overhead or chalkboard, making sure that it is easily accessible for all students to see.

    After the students have come up with their own ideas, it is a good idea to reveal the exact definition. A risk is the possibility of suffering harm from a hazard that can cause injury, disease, economic loss or any type of environmental damage.

    Explain that risk is always measured in terms of probability, with 0 being no risk at all and 1 being absolute certainty that the risk will occur. Most risks are between 0 and 1, so explain that a risk rarely always occurs or never occurs.

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    Types of Risks: Cultural, Chemical, Physical, Biological

    To make sure that the class is able to understand the different types of risks and what activities fall under these risks, tell each student to draw a four column chart with cultural risk, chemical risk, physical risk and biological risk written as the title of each column.

    Four Column Chart 

    On an overhead or blackboard write: poor diet, drug use, poor driving, assault, harmful chemicals in air, harmful chemicals in water, harmful chemicals in soil, harmful chemicals in food, fire, weather, radiation, pathogens, allergens, possible diseases spread from animals. These are the different human risks that will need to be categorized by the students.

    Ask students to write what category they feel is appropriate for each risk.

    Cultural risks include poor diet, drug use, poor driving and assault. Chemical risks include harmful chemicals in the air, water, soil and consumed food. Physical risks are fire, weather and radiation. Biological risks include pathogens, allergens and possible diseases spread from animals.

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    Types of Hazards: Chemical and Biological Hazards

    To characterize the different types of hazards, it is necessary to create a two column chart with hazardous chemicals and biological hazards across the top. Fill in characteristics of each type in addition to the results of exposure.

    Two Column Chart 

    Hazardous chemicals are known to be flammable or explosive, irritating or damaging to the lungs and can also interfere with oxygen intake and cause allergic reactions. Mutagens in chemicals can cause DNA mutations; carcinogens can promote growth of dangerous tumors. Make sure to answer any questions very generally, checking to see that the students understand that these are chemicals, not diseases.

    Biological hazards are categorized into non-transmissible and transmissible. Non-transmissible diseases include diabetes and malnutrition and cannot be passed from one person to another and are not caused by living organisms. Transmissible diseases include HIV, tuberculous and Ebola and can be spread from one person to another and are caused by living organisms. The pathogen is the infectious agent that causes transmissible diseases.

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    Possible Assessment Questions

    • What is the difference between a chemical and biological hazard?
    • Ebola and HIV are examples of what types of diseases?
    • What is the name of the infectious agent that causes transmissible diseases?
    • Poor Driving is what type of human risk?
    • Is a risk with a probability very likely or very unlikely?
    • Define risk.
    • What are three examples of hazardous chemicals?
    • What are mutations?
    • Can biological hazards be transmissible?

    These are questions that can be answered as a group. Divide the class into groups of four or five to answer these questions.

    With the conclusion of this science and health lesson plan, your high school students will have a better understanding of human health and the effects of risks and toxicology on our health. Hopefully this lesson will teach them that they can be responsible for their own health as well.