GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment



This week discusses chemical exposures and human and environmental health. We often take for granted that we are exposed to chemicals every day and everywhere as we breathe, touch, and eat them. Some of these chemicals are harmful to human health, like lead and asbestos, while others are beneficial, like those found in medicines. Some chemicals are toxic at all levels of exposure, while others may be harmful at a certain threshold and beneficial at another.

Material for Week 7:

This week, we will focus on chemicals that have harmful effects. We'll explore how you and others are exposed to chemicals through your everyday geographies, and will consider the relationship between human and environmental health. You will:

  • read an excerpt from Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring;
  • watch the TED Talk on The Toxic Baby; and
  • read the World Health Organizations page on Agri-chemicals.

Assignments Due During Week 7:

  • Take the Quiz Week 7 by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Submit Week 7 Questions and Reactions by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Respond to at least 2 of your classmates' Q&R posts by Thursday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Submit your annotated bibliography for the final essay by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Respond to at least 2 of your classmates about his/her annotated bibliography by Thursday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Check the calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.


You are expected to include the full citations for these materials in your assignments, as detailed in our Quick Guide. You should look up the missing information not provided with the materials, which, if it is not to be found in the document or opening film credits, can easily be located through a quick online search.

As you go through this lesson, consider:

  • How might my chemical exposures be different, or the same, from someone living in another place?
  • How might someone from a different background be exposed to different chemicals?
  • How do my consumer choices influence others’ chemical exposures? Environmental exposures?
  • Why is it important to trace chemicals in the environment?

Okay, now let's get started!