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Forensic Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. Forensic toxicology takes it a step further, including a number of related disciplines to assist in the detection and interpretation of drugs and poisons in medicolegal death investigations, human performance issues; e.g., Driving under the influence, compliance and other related matters.
In these investigations, the three main objectives (respectively) are to :
• Establish if toxicants are present and capable of contributing to death
• Establish if toxicants are present and capable of causing behavioral changes
• Establish if substances are present and whether or not they represent legitimate use or exposure, such as prescribed medications or workplace exposures
Forensic toxicology can also be used to determine drugs and dosing for hospital patients, for example in therapeutic drug monitoring and emergency clinical toxicology; identify crimes where toxicants are used to poison or sedate; resolve cases of driving under the influence; and establish whether drugs have been used to improve human performance, as in sport “doping”. For the purposes of this module, we will be primarily discussing post-mortem forensic toxicology.
Principles of Post-mortem (Death Investigation) Forensic Toxicology
Sixteenth century scientist Paracelsus gave us the adage “the dose makes the poison”. Basically, he surmised that a certain amount of every substance, even water and air, can be toxic and those amounts can differ somewhat from person to person and substance to substance. Therein lies one of the most basic challenges of toxicology: is it the quantity of the toxin or the make-up of the person.
Forensic toxicology applies analytical toxicology to the purposes of the law, and includes the analysis of a variety of fluids and tissue samples to determine the absence or presence of drugs and poisons. Once the analytical component is complete, the toxicologist has the equally challenging aspects of interpreting the findings.
Why and when is forensic toxicology used : In post-mortem investigations, suspected drug overdoses are clear situations where toxicology is required to establish if an excessive intake of the drug occurred and, if so, whether this contributed to death. Conversely, toxicology can eliminate the possibility of a drug overdose if concentrations are not capable of causing death, given all other factors. This means that toxicology testing can produce a positive result even in cases where drug use is not mentioned in the police circumstances. This is not surprising given the wide availability of potentially toxic substances, both legal and illegal. In addition, concentrations of substances change after death making any interpretation difficult, no matter the concentration.
In many cases, poisons may be detected by the toxicology laboratory but are not necessarily a cause of death, rather their presence may be relevant in the circumstances of death. For example, alcohol and impairing drugs are found in about half of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in Australia, nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States and in a significant proportion of other accidental deaths. Alcohol and/or drugs are also found in a significant number of other deaths reported to the coroner; for example, in suicides that include non-drug related intentional deaths. In death cases where natural disease is partially to blame, drugs that indicate an underlying disease are often detected, such as drugs that have been used to treat a condition or pain. Sometimes these drugs are regarded as contributing to the cause of death.
Regardless how the individual died, toxicology testing can determine whether levels of toxic substances may have contributed to this death.
OMICS Group Special Features:
OMICS International Organizes 300+ conferences, 500+workshops and 200+symposiums on Clinical, Medicine, Pharma and Science & Technology every year across USA, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Australia and UK with support from 1000 more Scientific Societies and Publishes 500 open access journals which contains over 30000 eminent personalities, reputed scientists as editorial board members. The OMICS International Conferences are instrumental in giving a serious stage to the incredibly famous scientists, understudies, researchers, academicians, organizations, business visionaries and businesses through its 300+ International Conferences and occasions yearly all through the globe to raise and examine the advancements in the field of OMICS Study. OMICS International Conferences are completely pressed with intriguing occasions, exercises and learning going with the quick entrepreneurial enthusiasm to make them genuine. They are multidimensional with synchronous movement situated symposia, International workshops and presentations where the identities from Sciences (Both unadulterated & connected), Pharmaceutical, Medical, Clinical, Engineering & Technology and Life Sciences accumulate with their procedures in discovering genuine answers for different basic issues around the globe.
OMICS literally means a field of study in biology consisting three important branches of study namely Proteomics, Genomics, and Metabolomics . While Proteomics deals with the Proteins, Genomics is a branch of biotechnology concerned with applying the techniques of genetics and molecular biology to the genetic mapping and DNA sequencing of sets of genes or the complete genomes of selected organisms. Metabolomics is study of all the metabolites present in cells, tissues, and organs.
1. SOFT (Society Of Forensic Toxicologists) Annual Meeting, Oct 19th-24th, Grand Rapids, MI
2. Forensics Europe Expo, 29- 30, April 2014, Olympia, London
3. ACMT Seminars in Forensic Toxicology, November 12 - 13, 2013, Baltimore, MD
4. Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., October 19-24, 2014, Grand Rapids, MI
5. Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., October 18-23, 2015, Atlanta, GA Dallas, TX,
6. Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., September 10-15, 2017, Boca Raton, FL
7. Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., October 7-12, 2018 Minneapolis, MN
8. Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., October 13-18, 2019, San Antonio, TX
1. International Association of Forensic Toxicologists
2. Society Of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT)
3. American Board of Forensic Toxicology
4. Society of Toxicology
5. Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology
6. American Academy of Forensic Sciences
7. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP)
8. The Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS)
9. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
10. International Association for Identification
11. International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT)
12. World Wide Web Virtual Library: Forensic Toxicology
This page will be updated regularly.
This page was last updated on 17th Apr, 2015
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