As manufacturing processes and development of new synthetic compounds increase to keep pace with the expanding global demand, environmental health, and the effects of toxicant exposure are emerging as critical public health concerns. Additionally, chemicals that naturally occur in the environment, such as metals, have profound effects on human and animal health. Many of these compounds are in the news: lead, arsenic, and endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A have all been widely publicized as causing disease or damage to humans and wildlife in recent years. Despite the widespread appreciation that environmental toxins can be harmful, there is limited understanding of how many toxins cause disease. Zebrafish are at the forefront of toxicology research; this system has been widely used as a tool to detect toxins in water samples and to investigate the mechanisms of action of environmental toxins and their related diseases. The benefits of zebrafish for studying vertebrate development are equally useful for studying teratogens. Here, we review how zebrafish are being used both to detect the presence of some toxins as well as to identify how environmental exposures affect human health and disease. We focus on areas where zebrafish have been most effectively used in ecotoxicology and in environmental health, including investigation of exposures to endocrine disruptors, industrial waste byproducts, and arsenic.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages37
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
ISSN (Print)0070-2153


  • Arsenic
  • BPA
  • Developmental toxicity assay
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Environmental health
  • TCDD
  • Toxicology
  • Zebrafish


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