Perspectives of Aquatic Toxicology/Preface

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge” - Albert Einstein

The Wikibook - Perspectives in Aquatic Toxicology – is primarily written by graduate students of Iowa State University. This Wikibook is the result of the Experimental Course - Aquatic Toxicology (A ECL 444/544X / TOX 444/544X) implemented, and designed by me (the editor) in spring 2019. During the many years of previous studies in my youth, I often felt constrained by the boundaries of textbooks that the teachers were imposing on me. I felt as there was no room to expand the knowledge beyond the colorful hardcovers of a textbook and it’s content. There was no reason for me to be creative, to want more, to ask questions, to seek answers, as it was already predetermined that all I, and thousands of other bright minds, need to know was already in the textbook. Even, there was no need for the teacher. All that was required was the textbook. My homework would be discarded and stowed away in some box, never again to see the sunlight, no matter how creative I tried to be. But, I wanted more...

I created the Aquatic Toxicology course to follow the open pedagogy approach “in which students are active and visible participants in the construction of knowledge” (DeRosa & Robison, 2017, p. 115). This time the students create their own textbook, selecting, and writing their own chapters while transferring the knowledge to each other in the class. There are no hardcovers or boundaries.  The book is free and accessible to any student in the world. This collaborative work between the course instructor/editor and the students aimed to present perspectives in Aquatic Toxicology and to establish authors a theoretical foundation for the experience.

While Aquatic Toxicology is a post-World War II discipline, it was practiced for thousands of years. Ancient scholars were conducting research on water pollution oblivious of the fact that such philosophy branch would be dubbed the Aquatic Toxicology many years later. It was Aristotle who invented “aquatic toxicity test” – the foundation methodology behind Aquatic Toxicology designed to assess the potential for damage to an aquatic environment. Around the year 350 BC Aristotle noticed the putrid smell arising from Athens sewage effluent streams and the downstream change in color where the effluent conjoined the pristine stream. He questioned the safety of the Athens drinking water supply and transferred midge fly (chironomids) larvae from pristine stream to the effluent in order to monitor their survival. Some 2,500 years later exposure of model species to effluents is still the basis of many toxicity tests. Later, perhaps what is known to be the first man made aquatic environmental catastrophe occurred in Ancient Rome. The elaborated network of drinking water supply and sewage disposal in large Roman towns were lead pipes that over the course of centuries leached lead into the Tiber River and build-up its deposits in the Portus – an Ancient Rome harbor. It was only recently that scientists discovered that the lead deposits in the sediments beneath Portus around 250-100 AD were many times higher than what was the natural background. Such concentration likely and significantly altered the community of benthic organisms at the harbor. Concomitantly the Roman drinking water had lead concentrations roughly 100 times higher than natural spring water, all while Ancient Romans were unaware of these facts and any associated potential health and environmental issues. History was repeating itself over the course of time and the environmental and health effects of mercury, DDT, dioxins, and other chemicals once thought to be safe, become apparent years after its introduction in the aquatic environment.

Today, Aquatic Toxicology, as a discipline, is getting an increase in global attention due to the explosive growth of the human population, dwindling clean water resources, water pollution, eutrophication, global decline in biodiversity, and increase in the number of newly synthesized chemicals evaluated by the regulatory agencies. Therefore, Aquatic Toxicology is not of interest only to toxicologist but has a much wider audience comprised of ecologists, chemists, risk managers, and environmental scientists, among others.

This Wikibook was supported by The Miller Faculty Development Fund of Iowa State University, specifically The Miller Open Education Mini-Grant. The Miller Fund was made possible by the generosity of F. Wendell Miller, who left his entire estate jointly to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. The Miller Open Education Mini-Grants aim to support faculty development through the use of new and innovative resources in the classroom. They provide faculty with opportunities to enhance their scholarship of teaching and learning by integrating Open Educational Resources (OER) into their teaching.

This book is not finished and it will be updated with new chapters and new information each time the course is offered. I wish to extend my acknowledgments to Dr. Evrim Baran, the open pedagogy advisor, and to Dana AlZoubi, technical editor of this book.

In Ames, Iowa, on June 30, 2019

Boris Jovanovic, PhD - Editor