Questions on Forensic Toxicology

Question:  What is Toxicology?

Answer:  The study of the harmful effects of chemicals or physical agents on living organisms is known as toxicology. Toxicology is derived from the Greek term ‘toxicon,’ which means ‘poison,’ and logos, which means ‘study.’ It also involves the investigation of specific toxicant effects such as developmental toxicity, teratogenicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenesis, immmeans studyune-toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and so on.

More Definitions:

► The word “toxicology” stems from the Indo-European root word tekw, meaning to flee or run from which are derived the Greek toxon, bow, and the Latin, toxicum, poison (McKean, 2005).

► “Toxicology is the study of the harmful actions of chemicals on biologic tissue.” (Loomis and Hayes, 1996).

► “Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical or physical agents on biological systems: it is the science of poisons” (Hayes, 2001).

► “Toxicology is concerned with the deleterious effects of these chemical agents on all living systems” (Plaa, 2007).

 ► “Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms” (Eaton and Klaassen, 2001).

 ► “Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological agents on living organisms and the ecosystem, including the prevention and amelioration of such adverse effects” (Society of Toxicology, 2005).

► “Toxicology is the science of poisons including their sources, chemical composition, actions, tests and antidotes their nature effects and antibodies” (Stedman’s medical dictionary, 2006).

Question: What is Forensic Toxicology?

Answer: Forensic toxicology is the study of presence or absence of drugs and chemicals, such as ethanol and other volatile compounds, carbon monoxide and other gases, metals, and other harmful chemicals in human fluids and tissues, and assesses their contribution to the cause and manner of death.

Question:  What is Poison?

Answer:  Poison is any material, liquid, or gas that, when administered into or applied to the body, can disrupt the life processes of the organism’s cells. These effects occur due to its intrinsic chemical capabilities, without the need for mechanical action and regardless of temperature.

Question:  What is Xenobiotic?

Answer:  A xenobiotic is any substance that is alien to the body, whether harmful or not.

Question:  What is Toxin?

Answer:  Toxin refers to any poison of biological origin.

Question:  What category of toxins are encountered in our life?


  • Bacterial (Endotoxins, Exotoxins),
  • Fungal (Mycotoxins),
  • Plant (Phytotoxins),
  • Animal (Zootoxins),
  • Algal (Phycotoxins)

Question:  What toxicants are encountered in veterinary practice/ medicine?


  • Pesticides,
  • Drugs (Animal And Human),
  • Household Chemicals,
  • Workplace Chemicals,
  • Feed Additives,
  • Poisonous Gases

Question:  What is Toxic?

Answer:  The chemical that possesses poisonous effects.

Question:  What is Toxicity?

Answer:  The quantity of poison that will create a negative impact under a certain set of conditions (agents are generally compared on a mg/kg basis, toxicity is not the condition caused by the toxicant).

Question:  What is Toxicosis?

Answer:  The toxicant-induced condition.

Question:  What is Venom?

Answer:  Venom is a toxicant that is produced in a specific gland and released when biting or stinging. Venom is likewise a zootoxin, however it is transferred by biting or stinging.

Question:  Who Is Considered The Father Of Rational Medicine?

Hippocrates (460-375 BC) is known as the “Father of Rational Medicine”. He established the Hippocratic oath. He felt that sickness comes from nature, not from superstitions. He advised using heated oil as a remedy for poisoning and inducing vomiting to avoid poison absorption.

Question:  Who is considered as a Father of Toxicology?

M J B (Mattie Josesph Benaventura) Orfila (1787-1853), a Spanish physician, is regarded as the “Father of Toxicology.”

He distinguished toxicology from other disciplines and defined toxicology as the study of poisons. In order to demonstrate that poisoning occurred, he advocated for the practise of autopsy followed by chemical analysis of viscera. Traite des Poisons, his “treatise,” published in 1814, set the foundation for forensic toxicology.

Question:  Who was Paracelsus.

Answer:  Hohenheim-Paracelsus (1493-1541) was a first-century Roman physician who advocated for the toxicon, or toxic agent, to be seen as a chemical entity. He acknowledged the dose-response relationship and remarked in one of his publications, “All substances are poisons; there is none that is not a poison.  The appropriate dose distinguishes between a poison and a cure.”

Question:  Who is Friedrich Serturner’s?

Answer:  Friedrich Serturner (1783-1841), a German pharmacist, extracted morphine from opium and named it after Morpheus, the Roman God of sleep.

Question:  Who Is Considered The Father Of Experimental Pharmacology?

Answer:  Francois Magendie (1783-1855), a pioneer French physiologist and toxicologist who examined the mechanism of action of emetine, morphine, quinine, strychnine, and other alkaloids, is recognised as the “Father of Experimental Pharmacology.”

Question:  Who was Claude Bernard?

Answer:  Claude Bernard (1813-1878) was a French physiologist regarded as the “Father” of Modern Experimental Physiology. Claude Bernard’s first significant publications were on the physiology of digestion, specifically the role of the pancreatic exocrine gland, gastric juices, and intestines. Bernard also made significant contributions to the field of neuroscience.

Question:  Who was Louis Lewin?

Answer:  Louis Lewin (1854-1929) was a German scientist who pioneered the classification of medications and plants based on their psychological effects. He also wrote a number of papers and books on the toxicity of methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, chloroform, opium, and other substances. His major works include “A toxicologist’s view of world history” and “A textbook of toxicology.”

Question:  Who is known as the “Father of Nerve Agents”?

Answer:  Gerhard Schrader (1903-1990) was a German scientist who created the poisonous nerve agents serin, tabun, soman, and cyclosarin by accident while working on new insecticides. Schrader and his colleagues therefore identified the structural parameters for insecticidal action of anticholinesterase (AChE) compounds and created a new family of synthetic insecticides, organophosphorus insecticides (OP). He is considered the “Father of Nerve Agents.”

Question:  Who was Rachel Carson?

Answer:  Rachel Carson began a battle against the use of DDT in 1962 and released the influential book book “Silent Spring.”

Question:  What Is A Systemic Toxicant?

Answer:  It is a toxin that affects the entire body or several organs rather than just one. Potassium cyanide, for example, is a systemic toxicant that affects practically every cell and organ in the body by interfering with the cell’s capacity to utilise oxygen.

Question:  What Is An Organ Toxicant?

Answer:  It is a toxicant that affects just certain organs or tissues (also known as tissue toxicants) without causing overall harm to the organism. Benzene, for example, is a particular organ toxicant since it is predominantly toxic to blood-forming tissues.

Question:  What Is Transitory, Reversible, Or Temporary Toxicity?

Answer:  It is the toxicity or adverse effect that lasts for a brief period. Narcosis, for example, created organic solvents.

Question:  What is the difference between chronic, permanent, and irreversible toxicity?

Answer:  It is the toxicity or harmful consequences that last throughout an individual’s life and are permanent, such as scarring of the skin caused by corrosives.

Question:  What Is Immediate Toxicity?

Answer:  It is the toxicity that results from a single exposure to a toxicant, such as cyanide poisoning.

Question:  What Is Delayed Toxicity?

Answer:  It refers to toxicity or detrimental effects that have a delayed onset of action, such as peripheral neuropathy caused by several organophosphorus pesticides and radiation sickness.

Question:  What Is Cumulative Toxicity?

Answer:  It is a gradual toxicity or detrimental impact caused by the accumulation of incremental damage caused by consecutive exposures, such as ethanol-induced liver fibrosis.

Accumulative effects occur in two ways: Accumulative effects occur in two ways:

a) Toxin accumulation: exposure to heavy metals (lead, mercury) with lengthy half-lives causes sickness owing to metal buildup.

b) Effect accumulation: low-level organophosphate pesticide exposure depresses acetylcholine esterase to the point where symptoms appear.

Question:  What Is Occupational (Industrial) Toxicology?

Answer:  Occupational (Industrial) toxicology is concerned with the health hazards of chemical exposure in the workplace. It is concerned with the clinical examination of workers in various sectors and their surroundings.

Question:  What Is Regulatory Toxicology?

Answer:  It is responsible for administrative duties such as the formulation and interpretation of mandated toxicological testing programmes, as well as the management of the use, distribution, and availability of commercial and medicinal chemicals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, regulates pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and food additives. Regulatory toxicology collects and analyses existing toxicological data in order to develop concentration-based “safe” exposure guidelines. The standard is the amount of a chemical to which a person can be exposed without medical complications.

Question:  What is a pollutant?

Answer:  It is any unwanted substance, solid, liquid, or gaseous matter, that results from the discharge or combination of hazardous components that pollute the environment and contribute to pollution.

Question:  Who discovered DDT’s insecticidal properties?

Answer:  In 1939, Paul Hermann Muller found that dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) has insecticidal properties. In 1948, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for “discovering the great efficacy of DDT as a contact toxin against numerous arthropods.”