ToxTown is an interactive learning resource
developed by the National Library of Medicine to provide information about the location of toxic substances in our environment. The learning resource is available in both English and Spanish. It includes a teachers guide designed for K-12 teachers.ToxTown
consists of five neighborhoods (city, farm, town, border, and port) where
environmental concerns abound. There is no cost associated with using the
resources at ToxTown.
After completing the learning module the learner should be able to:
water, air, and noise pollution that are present in different
the effect that chemicals and other aspects of our environment have on human
Target Student Population:
The animations are appropriate for students in high school
or the first 2 years of undergraduate study in college and the concerned public. Students studying
environmental sciences or pre-professionals in the health sciences such as
nursing, respiratory therapy, and medicine would benefit from using this
It is a companion to the extensive information in the TOXNET® collection of databases that are typically used by toxicologists and health professionals.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
1.Ability to navigate an Internet site with multiple
links and hot spots.
2.General knowledge of chemical names and high school
3.Knowledge of common health concerns including hearing
and vision problems, infections, and breathing problems.
Type of Material:
Collection:ToxTown is a collection of images with
mouse roll-overs, menus, and external links which provide information about environmental
hazards that might be present in a neighborhood.
The learning resource could be used as a stand alone resource
because it has accompanying descriptions of toxic substances by linking the
site to ToxNet. In addition, ToxTown
is linked to Medline Plus which provides additional information about health
This tool is useful for individuals who may have a limited grasp or no understanding of toxicology.
In order to view the images in ToxTown,
Flash must be installed (there is a text-only version available). Sounds are
provided to increase interest for the user, but not necessary to understanding
the content. No other programs are required. ToxTown
runs equally well in Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Evaluation and Observation
1.ToxTown was developed by the National
Library of Medicine and is linked to other reliable and valid sources of
2.The environmental hazards that are depicted in ToxTown
are realistic and give a thorough assessment of a typical neighborhood.
3.ToxTown teaches important concepts to
a wide audience in an interesting fashion.
4.For students who are interested in environmental
sciences, ToxTown can provide a sound foundation
upon which more advanced study can be built.
Many linked materials may prove challenging for young students and individuals without developed scientific vocabularies.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The purpose of ToxTown
is to demonstrate the potential sources of environmental hazardous in
1.ToxTown facilitates learning by
presenting a common neighborhood scene containing hazards that might not be obvious
at first to the learner.
2.By selecting either a location in the neighborhood or a
button at the bottom of the image, the user is shown where chemicals or other
hazards exist. More information is provided on the right-hand menu. .
The cartoon graphics and sounds may belie the intellectually difficult nature of some of the resources to which the site links. Conversely, more advanced users may discount the usefulness of information presented through the site due to the graphical and auditory representations.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
1.The homepage of ToxTown
clearly shows that there are five neighborhoods to explore. Once in a
neighborhood, all menus function in the same way to provide consistency in
2.There were no broken links to external web pages.
3.The images and sounds used in ToxTown
make it an interesting location to learn about toxic substances in the places
where we live, work, and play.
1.There are no instructions on the homepage of ToxTown.
Users would need to notice that a mouse-over will take them into neighborhoods.
2.ToxTown can be overwhelming to a
first-time user. There are many different ways to move around the neighborhoods
and many external links that provide additional information.