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ENVR 279 - Modeling for Environmental Risk Assessment

Course Type:
Earth Systems Science

Course Size:


Mathematical methods for environmental risk assessment, including exposure assessment and exposure-response assessment, are developed and applied.

Course Context:

The course is a companion to ENVR 175/ENST 198, Environmental Risk Assessment, and has ENVR 175/ENST 198 as a prerequisite. The class meets once a week for a 75-minute lecture.

Course Goals:

The primary goals of the course are to develop:
  • understanding of particular mathematical methods used in the analysis of risks from physical, chemical and biological agents in the environment;
  • understanding of the theoretical/axiomatic foundations of specific models employed in human health risk analysis;
  • understanding of computational tools typically used in conjunction with mathematical models, particularly those used routinely in risk analysis;
  • understanding of the issues of parameter estimation, crafting, precision, validity, truth, etc, as these relate to judging the quality of models in risk assessment;
  • facility at applying these models to the task of calculating the evolution of the state of the environment and its relationship to human health risk;
  • understanding of the application of the models in regulatory decisions and other forms of environmental decisions that employ risk assessment.

Course Content:

This course covers 7 topics: spaces, fields and mapping for risk agents and their effects, dispersion modeling and the translation, superposition, differentiation and integration of pollutant fields, probability, Statistics and Optimization, systems analysis and ordinary differential equations, numerical approximation and solution of differential equations, Monte Carlo simulation, variability and uncertainty, selection of mitigation strategies for minimizing risk.

Teaching Materials:

The text for the course is Mathematical Methods of Environmental Risk Modeling by Crawford-Brown (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001)


Grades are based on a midterm examination (50%) and on a final examination (50%) which is built around a modeling project consisting of building, defending and using one or more models.

References and Notes: