Forensic Toxicology
Brandon Krom
Vincennes University

Forensic toxicology shows us poisons that are difficult to detect and how toxicological examination s w ere made in the 19 th century. The history of toxicology goes way back to 50 000 BCE with early humans who used dangerous plants and animals during hunting. The wor d toxicology derived from the Greek. It's science that deals with the adverse effects caused by xenobiotics on living things . Xenobiotics are chemicals that are foreign to living systems such as plants or animals or toxicants. The great deal of toxicological knowledge is based on experimental animal toxicity testing.
Forensic toxicology deals with the investigations of cause of death or when some one is poison ed or when someone uses to o much drug s . Forensic toxicologists are scientists trained as biologists, chemists and pharmacology . The principles of forensic toxicology tools are available for post mortem or living persons' case work. As part of a team investigating a crime, a forensic toxicologist will separate and ID any substances in the body that may have contributed to the crime . T hey can look at alcohol, illegal drugs and other chemicals, poisons, and metals/gases.
Working in the lab can be very cool and interesting . A t oxicologist performs all kind of test on samples that are collected by forensic pathologists during autops ies or by crime scene investigators. Toxicologists are known to use high ly difficult tools, chemical reagents and precise methodologies to know what happen s or determine the presence of specific substances. At times, they can be called on to testify in court and the toxicologist must be ready for anything that is thrown at them reg arding test results and findings in their work. Th ey must be prepared to justify th e conclusions and explain complex methodologies in terms that a jury can understand.
For many people, they may think that toxicologists only deal with the death of humans or that their investigations are only done for conclusions of murders or homicides. Toxicologists deal with many types of investigations including: conclusions from wildlife criminal investigations, testing performed for "date rape" drugs and even some cases that relate to environmental contamination. They can be asked to help conclude the impact of chemical spills dealing with the contamination of the environment and its animals.
Most forensic toxicologists work in labs that are ran by law enforcement agencies, medical examiners or coroners or drug testing facilities. Shifts for this career can be very long depending on the type of case. Some samples they test must have conclusions made on them within certain time frames due to the reactions of the environment and/or the longevity of the dangerous chemicals present when mixed with our chemicals. Forensic toxicologists can be exposed to many different types of crimes and the details that go with it and can at times be very emotional. A forensic toxicologist must be very attentive to details and can work well under pressure while still being efficient. They must also be able to prioritize their workloads so they can deliver results timely.
Determining some conclusions presented to toxicologists can be more trying than others. A lot of this depends on the additional evidence that is collected from the area that is believe to be the "crime scene". Sometimes if bottles are collected or if there are marks present it can make it easier to start testing for certain things first. When trying to determine what someone has ingested this can tend to be more difficult by the body's natural processes.
Toxicologists can test many kinds of samples to determine exactly what they are looking for. Some of the items that can be tested are: urine, blood and hair samples just to name a few things. They all are tested for different reasons depending on the crime or what needs to be determined. Urine for example can be used to test for drugs as it contains higher concentrations and can remain in urine for much longer than blood. It is a sample that can be provided by someone or even taken post-mortem. Blood samples for examples are great when trying to determine someone's blood