Toxicology and its Components

Toxicology includes the study of chemical properties and how they affect the body. It focuses on the adverse effects of chemicals in living organisms that come in contact with them. Toxicology includes the detection, symptoms, pathogenesis, mechanism and treatment of these chemicals.

Poison is any chemical that is toxic and can cause serious harm to the body. Toxicologists conduct toxicology research and aim to study these poisons and gain the following understanding from them:

  • Detection of poison
  • Occurrence of poison
  • The properties of poison
  • The effects of poison
  • Treatment options for the poison
  • Regulation for the poison

They do this in order to protect humans and the environment from different toxicants and their hazardous effects. The study and toxicology testing for various toxic elements will eventually lead to an improved and more innovative set of therapies that can be used to treat ailments after the reduction of the toxic potential to the human body.

Types of Toxicology

The different types of toxicology are listed below:

  • Analytical toxicology: This includes the detection and evaluation of toxic chemicals.
  • Applied toxicology: Applied toxicology is concerned with the application of modern technology in the early detection of toxicants.
  • Clinical toxicology: Clinical toxicology is the study of diagnosis and treatment of poisons, mainly in humans.
  • Veterinary toxicology: It is the study of diagnosis and treatment of poisons, mainly in animals and the potential of transference to humans.
  • Forensic toxicology: Forensic toxicology deals with the medical investigation of the death, poisoning and drug use.
  • Environment toxicology: Environment toxicology is the study of the presence of toxicants in the environment and their effect on humans and animals.
  • Industrial toxicology: It is a selective area of environment toxicology.

Factors that Affect Chemical Toxicity

The goal of toxicology research and toxicology testing is to identify the adverse effects of different toxicants. The adverse effects depend on two main factors, which are the routes of exposure and the dose, which is the concentration of the exposure.

The factors that affect chemical toxicity are as follows:

  • Dosage: acute exposure (large single exposures) and chronic exposure (small and continuous exposures)
  • Route of Exposure: ingestion, skin absorption or inhalation
  • Species
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Individual characteristics

What is Toxicologic Pathology?

Toxicologic pathology is the integration of pathology and toxicology. Pathology is concerned with the nature of disease and evaluating the changes that are produced in the cells, tissues, organs or body fluids in response to various ‘challenges’ they may face. Toxicologic pathology requires extensive knowledge in the fields of toxicology, pathology and various other fields such as statistics and experimental design, and sometimes even molecular biology and toxicogenomics.

It plays a crucial role in assessing the safety of non-human primates which are used in the development of drugs. This is done through the identification and interpretation of microscopic tissue changes. The accurate representation process (identification and interpretation) of these histopathologic changes includes study design, organ weights, treatment and historical control data, along with the proper usage of terminology, thresholds and quality control. Another critical aspect is having a solid understanding of microscopic changes in non-human primates which are used in nonclinical research.