Forensic Toxicology

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Forensic Toxicology
Forensic 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. The primary concern for forensic toxicology is not the legal outcome of the
toxicological investigation or the technology utilised, but rather the obtaining and interpreting
of the results. A toxicological analysis can be done to various kinds of samples.
A forensic toxicologist must consider the context of an investigation, in particular any physical
symptoms recorded, and any evidence collected at a crime scene that may narrow the search,
such as pil bottles, powders, trace residue, and any available chemicals.
Provided with this information and samples with which to work, the forensic toxicologist must
determine which toxic substances are present, in what concentrations, and the probable effect
of those chemicals on the person.
Determining the substance ingested is often complicated by the body's natural processes (see
ADME), as it is rare for a chemical to remain in its original form once in the body.
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For example: heroin is almost immediately metabolised into another substance and further to
morphine, making detailed investigation into factors such as injection marks and chemical
purity necessary to confirm diagnosis.
The substance may also have been diluted by its dispersal through the body; while a pill or
other regulated dose of a drug may have grams or mil igrams of the active constituent, an
individual sample under investigation may only contain micrograms or nanograms.
History of Forensic Toxicology
Forensic Toxicology has been developed around for hundreds of years. The first book on
forensic toxicology was published in 1813 by Mathieu Orifila. He is Spanish chemist and
physician who is known as "Father of Toxicology" published a book a Treatise of General
Another work was done by Albert Swaine in 1836. The book "Elements of Medical
Jurisprudence" was written by him. This book was based on the theory of Forensic
Toxicology. The English chemist James Marsh also discovered a correct way to detect arsenic
in the body in 1836.
Forensic Toxicologist
The main work of a mechanistic toxicologist is to determine the harmful effects of substance
on living organisms. They judge the risk of any substance for making it publical y available.
A forensic toxicologist perform a major role in an investigation for recording any physical
symptoms or for col ecting evidences at a crime scene such as bottles, powders, trace
residue, and chemicals.
With all these kind of information and samples, the forensic toxicologist must identify about the
concentration, nature and effect of toxic substances.
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Today one of the popular Forensic Toxicologists is Mr. Olaf H. Drummer who is the president
of The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT).
Forensic Serology
Forensic serology is the detection and study of various bodily fluids specially blood and show
their relationship to a crime scene. The forensic serology involved the testing of the blood,
bloodstain and character of blood. A forensic serologist analyzes semen, body fluids, DNA
The fluid portion of blood is plasma containing water, serum (yel owish and contains white
cells and platelets). The analyst can know about the freshness of a blood sample because
serum clots several minutes after exposure to air. The antibodies present in serum are also
very useful in forensic implications.
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