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TOXMAP: Resources for Teachers

The TOXMAP teachers’ page provides information and resources for learning more about environmental health and toxic chemicals.

        Why use TOXMAP in Your Classroom?
        Why Should Students Care about Environmental Health?
        Get the Most out of TOXMAP
        Brief Overview of Chemicals and Toxicity
        Classroom Considerations
        Sample TOXMAP Exercises
        State Level Curriculum Standards
        School Tools and Lesson Plans
        Additional Resources


Why use TOXMAP in Your Classroom?

TOXMAP...
  • Is easily accessed over the Internet
  • Has data that allows for easy construction of practice problem sets, exercises at different levels of difficulty, tests and replacement tests
  • Can help students build skills such as navigating a geographic information resource (GIS) and accessing quality chemical and health information
  • Can be used to help meet state science, geography, and reading (graphics) standards (see State Level Curriculum Standards)
  • Provides opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in other departments (Science, Social Studies, Technology)
  • Helps develop an understanding of the relationship between the environment and human health
  • Is fun and interesting to use (particularly when students find information about their own communities).

Why Should Students Care about Environmental Health?

TOXMAP can help you and your students investigate the relationship of toxic chemicals to environmental health. Everything in the environment is made of chemicals; both naturally occurring and synthetic substances are chemical in nature. We use chemicals every day in our kitchens, medicine cabinets, basements, and garages. They can also help us to live longer, healthier lives.

Some chemicals, however, can pose risks to the environment and to people’s health. Exposure to chemicals occurs by swallowing, eating, or breathing, or by absorbing them through the skin or mucosa. People can make some choices about chemical exposure themselves. Communities and governments also help to control chemical exposure. The EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory and Superfund Programs-- the source of some of TOXMAP’s data-- are examples of this effort.

Tools like TOXMAP can be used to identify potential sources of harm to human health from chemicals in the environment. This can contribute to developing approaches to reduce or eliminate exposure to environmental toxic agents.


Get the Most out of TOXMAP

To get the most out of TOXMAP, start by taking the TOXMAP Tour. Also consider looking at:

Brief Overview of Chemicals and Toxicity

For a brief overview on chemicals and toxicity, read our FAQ: "What should I understand about chemicals and toxicity while using TOXMAP?"


Classroom Considerations

When using TOXMAP in your classroom, you may want to consider:
  • Providing demonstrations of how to answer different types of questions
  • Having the questions build from simple to complex
  • Having students develop their own questions
  • Allowing opportunities for unstructured exploration
  • Collaborating with Science and Social Studies departments if possible.

Sample TOXMAP Exercises

Consider using or adapting these sample TOXMAP exercises for your classroom. Keep in mind that students are often most interested in their own community or state. Questions with their own “neighborhood” as the focus can help guide and encourage initial exploration of TOXMAP.

This exercise was adapted from one developed by Mr. Robert Jordan, Social Studies teacher at Robert Morse High School in Bath, Maine. To obtain an answer key for this exercise, please Contact Us at tehip@teh.nlm.nih.gov.

MS Word Version Adobe PDF Version Download Acrobat Reader

The following exercises were developed by Molly Clawson, M.A.T., Graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, 2009, and Thomas R. Mueller, Ph.D., GISP Professor at the California University of Pennsylvania. To obtain the one answer key for these exercises, please Contact Us at tehip@teh.nlm.nih.gov.

Please note:
  • Certain instructions and answers in these exercises might be slightly different from what currently appears in TOXMAP. Be sure to verify and update the exercises prior to using them in a classroom.
  • You may need to open these zipped folders to access the individual exercises.
MS Word Version (zipped) Adobe PDF Version (zipped) Download Acrobat Reader


State Level Curriculum Standards

This page of US State Level Curriculum Standards, maintained by Education World, provides quick access to all the US State Standards by topic and grade level. You also may want to review these links:

School Tools and Lesson Plans

Below is a list of environmentally-minded school tools and lesson plans:
  • Chemicals, the Environment, and You is an inquiry-based instruction program, developed with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), designed to promote active learning and stimulate student interest in medical topics. This curriculum supplement helps students develop the major goals associated with scientific literacy. (http://science-education.nih.gov/supplements/nih2/chemicals/default.htm)
  • Superfund for Students and Teachers is designed to educate students and teachers about the EPA Superfund Program and hazardous waste. Site includes classroom activities, frequently asked questions, information on environmental education and grants. (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/students/index.htm)
  • EPA Students for the Environment (Environmental Protection Agency) offers lesson plans and activities from EPA and many other sources, grouped by topic. (http://epa.gov/students/)
  • Environment and Health is a tutorial that walks you through the process of creating a profile of environment and health in your community. Residents, local officials, students, and others can use this as a guide to locating pollution sources and addressing health risks. It uses a case study of Woburn, MA, along with other community models. (http://www.jsi.com/JSIInternet/Resources/publication/display.cfm?txtGeoArea=US&id=10288&thisSection=Resources)
  • Curriculum, Lesson Plans, and Activities from the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona, contains K-12 programs and educational activities and curricula. (http://coep.pharmacy.arizona.edu/curriculum/index.html)
  • Resource Guide on Children's Environmental Health includes a keyword index so students can search specific toxicants. (http://www.cehn.org/resources/resource_guide)
  • Hazardous Waste and Toxics: Real Data for Real Places from SERC/Carleton College lets students use a series of online federal databases to explore the geographies of environmental hazards, the nature of the threats they pose, and various remediation results; utilizes pre-designed worksheet and self-directed research. (http://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/workshops/envirojustice2013/activities/70645.html)
  • Mapping Your Neighborhood from SERC/Carleton College challenges students to learn more about the places where they live by exploring geospatial data. (http://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/workshops/envirojustice2013/activities/70788.html)
  • My environment, my health, my choices (free registration required) is an education project intended to offer students and teachers a new set of tools to address environmental health issues and concerns in their daily lives. Select "Environmental Health" from list of Keywords. (http://lifesciences.envmed.rochester.edu/lessons.html)
  • Tox Town uses color, graphics, sounds and animation to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment, and the public's health. Tox Town's target audience is students above elementary-school level, educators, and the general public. (http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/)
  • RadTown USA is an interactive, virtual community of houses, schools, laser light shows, construction equipment, flying planes, and moving trains. Each place in RadTown helps you learn about radiation sources or radiation- treated items you might find there (requires Adobe Flash). (http://www.epa.gov/radtown/)
  • EnviroHealth Connections (Maryland Public Television and Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education) helps you explore environmental health issues through a variety of resources including lesson plans and selected Internet links. (http://www.thinkport.org/classroom/connections/default.tp)
  • Environmental Health Science Education (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) provides educators, students and scientists with easy access to reliable tools, resources and classroom materials. (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/science-education/home.htm)

Additional Resources

You can find additional Teacher Resources on the Tox Town® “For Teachers” page at http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/teachers.php.