Toxicology helps us design processes using safer chemicals. It’s not just us we have to think of but all other species on the planet that are affected by anthropogenic processes. By studying how a certain chemical affects us and other species, we can make better decisions. There are a few aspects which we need to consider, which will help us learn the toxic effects of chemicals on all of us.
- Should a chemical be banned?
- What is a drug?
- What is a poison?
- What is a toxin?
- What is a dose?
- What is exposure?
- Means of administration?
- Understand the difference between Pharmacology and toxicology: Pharmacology is the scientific study of the origin, nature, chemistry, effects and use of drugs. Toxicology is the science that investigates the adverse effects of chemicals on health.
“The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.” -Paracelsus
Have you heard of an Ayurvedic medicine called ‘Makardhwaj’? To explain this quote by Paracelsus, this is a perfect example. Makardhwaj contains mercury. What? Mercury? Yes. In the right quantities, it proves to be a medicine and not a toxin.
Dose (in ppm)= (gm of chemical)/(kg of body weight)
Knowing the dose is insufficient. We also need to know the following things:
- Environmental concentration
- Properties of toxicant
- Frequency of exposure
- Length of exposure
- Exposure pathway
Individuals vary with regard to response to drugs/toxins.
Distribution, metabolism and excretion:
Distribution, metabolism and excretion describe what happens to the drug or toxin in the body
Distribution: Organs that are reacted
Metabolism: Chemical transformation – metabolites
Did you know? If you are exposed to a certain amount of amine, you won’t be able to sleep for three days. Also, if you put your hand in Carbon Tetrachloride for 30 min, it can be fatal.
Did you know if you drink 5 litres of milk everyday, you will probably die in a year?
Some toxins discriminate with gender, yes they do. You can read about it here.