Principles of Environmental Science Inquiry and Appications8

Disease
A deleterious change in the body’s condition in response to destabilizing factors, such as nutrition, chemicals, or biological agents. 
Morbidity
Illness or disease.
Mortality

Death rate in a population, such as

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number of deaths per thousand people per year. 

Environmental Health
The science of external factors that cause disease, including elements of the natural, social, cultural, and technological worlds in which we live. 
disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)    
A health measure that assesses the total burden of disease by combining premature deaths and loss of a healthy life that result from illness or disability. 
pathogens   
Organisms that produce disease in host organisms, disease being an alteration of one or more metabolic functions in response to the presence of the organisms. 
emergent disease    

A new disease or one that has

been absent for at least 20 years. 

ecological diseases    
Sudden, wide-spread epidemics among livestock and wild species. 
conservation medicine    
Attempts to understand how changes we make in our environment threaten our health as well as that of natural communities on which we depend. 
Toxic
Poisonous
allergens   
Substances that activate the immune system and cause an allergic response; may not be directly antigenic themselves but may make other materials antigenic. 
Antigens   
Substances that stimulate the production of, and react with, specific antibodies. 
sick building syndrome    
A cluster of allergies and other illnesses caused by sensitivity to molds, synthetic chemicals, or other harmful compounds trapped in insufficiently ventilated buildings. 
neurotoxins   
Toxic substances, such as lead or mercury, that specifically poison nerve cells. 
mutagens   
Agents, such as chemicals or radiation, that damage or alter genetic material (DNA)
in cells. 
teratogens   
Chemicals or other factors that specifically cause abnormalities during embryonic growth and development. 
fetal alcohol syndrome    

A tragic set of permanent physical, mental, and behavioral birth defects that result when mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy. 

carcinogens   
Substances that cause cancer.    
cancer   
Invasive, out-of-control cell growth that results in malignant tumors. 
endocrine hormone disrupters    

Chemicals that interfere with the function of endocrine hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, thyroxine, adrenaline, or cortisone. 

bioaccumulation   

The selective absorption and

concentration of molecules by cells.

biomagnification   
Increase in concentration of certain stable chemicals (for example, heavy metals or fat-soluble pesticides) in successively higher trophic levels of a food chain or web. 
persistent organic pollutants (POPs)    
Chemical compounds that persist in the environment and retain biological activity for a long time. 
synergism   
When an injury caused by exposure to two environmental factors together is greater than the sum of exposure to each factor individually. 
LD50   

A chemical dose lethal to 50 percent of a test

population.

acute effects    
A sudden onset of symptoms or effects of exposure to some factor. 
chronic effects    

Long-lasting results of exposure to

a toxin; can be a permanent change caused by a single, acute exposure or a continuous, low-level exposure. 

hormesis   
Nonlinear effects of toxic materials.    
epigenome   
DNA and its associated proteins and other small molecules that regulate gene function in ways that can affect multiple generations.