Environmental Toxicology

Environmental Toxicology


As environmental toxicologists, we are interested in the effects of environmental stressors, in particular chemical pollutants, on organism health. An excellent overview of the importance of pollutants for health globally can be found here (summary infographic) and here (review article).

In the Meyer lab, we work on a wide range of stressors and contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, ultraviolet radiation, nanoparticles, mycotoxins, and complex environmental mixtures such as those found at Superfund sites, indoor and outdor air pollution, and mining-associated pollution. We focus in particular on those that cause DNA damage, and have a special interest in mitochondrial DNA damage and chemicals that affect mitochondria (dubbed “mitotoxicants”; see Mitochondria and Mitochondrial DNA). We use a wide range of methods for our studies, including biochemical, toxicological, and microscopic tools. However, we specialize in molecular, genetic, and genomic approaches. We measure DNA damage and DNA repair using a quantitative PCR assay (Gonzalez-Hunt et al., 2016Meyer, 2010).

We use C. elegans and mammalian cell culture for these studies, and also work collaboratively with other groups to extend these studies to other species and systems. In the images to the right, dopaminergic neurons in the head of C. elegans can be observed because green fluorescent protein is expressed in those neurons (photos by Maxwell Leung; this transgenic strain was developed by Richard Nass). We are testing whether environmental exposures that cause mitochondrial toxicity lead to degeneration of these neurons, as does exposure to the laboratory model chemical 6-hydroxydopamine. Degeneration of these neurons in people causes Parkinson’s Disease, and the cause of most cases of Parkinson’s Disease is not understood.

Some useful links:daergic neurons

International scientific societies that study environmental toxicology and environmental health:

Local scientific societies that study environmental toxicology and environmental health:

Interesting articles and websites:

Useful tools: