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Toxicology: Its Introduction and Forensic Toxicology

BY: Muniba Safdar | Category: Toxicology | Submitted: 2011-02-25 09:18:58
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Article Summary: "what is toxicology? what are its sub-disciplines? Toxicology is a division of chemistry, medicine, and biology. It is basically concerned with the study of hostile effects of chemical materials or substances, symptoms, treatments, mechanism, detection of poisoning of animals specifically the poisoning of human being..."


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INTRODUCTION OF TOXICOLOGY:

Toxicology word has been taken from the Greek words toxicos which means "poisonous". Toxicology is a division of chemistry, medicine, and biology. It is basically concerned with the study of hostile effects of chemical materials or substances, symptoms, treatments, mechanism, detection of poisoning of animals specifically the poisoning of human beings. In other words, toxicology is s branch of pharmacology (is the science or study of drugs: their preparation and properties and uses and effects) concerned with the study of nature and special effects and dealings of poisons.

Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila, a Spanish-born chemist and French toxicologist, is believed to be the father of toxicology. The first attempt for the classification of plants in accordance to their toxic (of or relating to or caused by a toxin or poison) and therapeutic effect was made by a Greek physician, Pedanius Dioscorides in the court of the Roman emperor Nero. He was a botanist and a pharmacologist. The evidence was given by Jean Stas in 1850 that the Belgian Count Hypolyte Visart de Bocarme murdered his brother-in-law by giving poison with nicotine (is an alkaloid poison that occurs in tobacco; used in medicine and as an insecticide).

SUBDISCIPLINES OF TOXICOLOGY:

Within the field of toxicology there are numerous focused sub-disciplines that deal with the diverse biological and chemical aspects of this part. Areas that include study of toxicology are as follows;

• Toxicogenomics
(involves applying molecular profiling approaches to the study of toxicology).

• Forensic toxicology (is the use of toxicology and other disciplines such as analytical chemistry, pharmacology and clinical chemistry to aid medical or legal investigation of death, poisoning, and drug use).

• Environmental toxicology or EnTox (is a young and interdisciplinary science that uses both basic and applied scientific knowledge to understand natural and anthropogenic pollutants life cycle and their impacts upon structure and functions of biological and ecological systems).

• Aquatic toxicology (is the study of the effects of manufactured chemicals and other anthropogenic and natural materials and activities on aquatic organisms at various levels of organization, from sub-cellular through individual organisms to communities and ecosystems).

• Chemical toxicology (is a scientific discipline involving the study of structure and mechanism related to the toxic effects of chemical agents, and encompasses technology advances in research related to chemical aspects of toxicology).

• Ecotoxicology (is a multidisciplinary field, which integrates toxicology and ecology. It is the study of the effects of toxic chemicals on biological organisms, especially at the population, community, ecosystem level).

• Medical toxicology or clinical toxicology (is a sub-specialty of medicine. It is practiced by toxicologists, but toxicologic knowledge is often used in emergency medicine, occupational medicine and pediatrics).

FORENSIC TOXICOLOGY: AN EMERGING DISCIPLINE OF TOXICOLOGY

Forensic (of, relating to, or used in public debate or argument or used or applied in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law) toxicology is used to aid medical or lawful investigation of death, drug use, and poisoning by the use of toxicology and other disciplines such as pharmacology, analytical chemistry, and clinical chemistry. The main concern of forensic toxicology is to obtain and interpret the result.

PRECAUTIONARY STEPS FOR A FORENSIC TOXICOLOGIST:


There are some important steps that must be considered in the course of an investigation.

• A forensic toxicologist must consider important mark collected at crime spot that may constrict the search for example, powders, any chemical, pills bottles and trace residues.

• A forensic toxicologist must determine the provided information and samples that which toxic substances or materials are present, what is the concentration of that substance and effects of those toxic chemicals on the person.

• The substance that is ingested is often intricate by body's natural processes. Because there are a few chemicals that remain in its original form. But some chemicals immediately metabolized into another substance.

For example, heroin (is a narcotic that is considered a hard drug; a highly addictive morphine derivative; intravenous injection provides the fastest and most intense rush) is almost completely and immediately absorbed into another substance then further digested into morphine (is an alkaloid narcotic drug extracted from opium; a powerful, habit-forming narcotic used to relieve pain). For the confirmation of diagnosis, detailed investigation has been made i.e. injection marks and chemical concentration.

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