NIFK15005U Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment of Chemicals

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Environmental Science


The purpose of the course is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the current risk assessment procedures for chemicals within the European Union.

The course will give a general introduction to underlying values and potential conflicts concerning risk management, including 1) the ethics of risk, the normative content of risk, measurement and comparison of risks, and risk perception studies; and 2) general risk management principles, including the separation of risk assessment and risk management, principles for acceptable risk and the Precautionary Principle.

The following risk assessment frameworks will be presented: REACH, pesticides, biocides, veterinary medicines and feed additives, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food additives. For each, the practical implications for conducting risk assessment of a chemical are identified, including the type of data needed for exposure and effect assessments and the requirements for these within the different risk assessment frameworks. Also, the legal structure and the risk management principles underlying each framework will be identified and discussed in the light of alternative risk management options.

The course will also address the emerging challenges from new contaminants (e.g., endocrine disruptors, nanomaterials) and cocktail effects, as well as the challenge ensure protection of human health while at the same time accommodating the increasing demand for sustainability and reduction of animal tests.

Learning Outcome


• Discuss the principles underlying currently used regulatory frameworks for risk assessment of chemicals within the EU

• Discuss data requirements for human health and environmental risk assessments of chemicals within various risk assessment frameworks

• Discuss potential solutions to emerging challenges for risk assessment and risk management.

• Discuss methods for effect and exposure assessment of chemicals within the various risk assessment frameworks



• Classify chemicals according to their hazards to humans and the environment

• Identify relevant data for human health and environmental risk assessments of chemicals within the various risk assessment frameworks

• Identify the risk management principles underlying specific risk assessment frameworks.

• Identify emerging challenges for specific risk assessment frameworks as well as emerging challenges that cut across frameworks.



• Overview of the following frameworks for chemical risk assessment in the EU: REACH, pesticides, biocides, human medicines, food additives, as well as veterinary medicines, biocides, and feed additives and, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food additives.

• Overview of the ethics of risk and general risk management principles

• Describe basic findings in risk perception studies

Research articles and textbook material. The course literature will be available on Absalon.

Competences equivalent to the following mandatory courses in the specialization Chemistry, Toxicology and Health (Chemtox): Toxicology and Ecotoxicology, Soil and Water Pollution, Concepts and Theory, Soild and Water Pollution, Experimental Assessment, Environmental Epidemiology.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Lectures, case studies, exercises. Two written assignments (course reports).
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 36
  • Preparation
  • 126
  • Practical exercises
  • 36
  • Exam
  • 8
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Continuous personal and collective oral feedback is given during the exercises. Students receive personal written and oral peer feedback on their written assignments as well as personal written and collective oral feedback from the teacher.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 8h
Type of assessment details
8 hour take home assignment made in the exam week.
Exam registration requirements

Two mandatory course reports

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

The same as the ordinary exam.
If the student has not handed in the mandatory reports, then they must be handed in three weeks prior to the re-exam. They must be approved before the re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome