Analytic toxicology involves the application of the tools of analytic chemistry to the qualitative and/or quantitative estimation of chemicals that may exert adverse effects on living organisms.
Forensic toxicology involves the use of toxicology for the purposes of the law; by far the most common application is to identify any chemical that may serve as a causative agent in inflicting death or injury on humans or in causing damage to property.
The toxicological investigation of a poison death involves (1) obtaining the case history in as much detail as possible and gathering suitable specimens, (2) conducting suitable toxicological analyses based on the available specimens, and (3) the interpretation of the analytic findings.
The toxicologist as an expert witness may provide two objectives: testimony and opinion. Objective testimony usually involves a description of analytic methods and findings. When a toxicologist testifies as to the interpretation of analytic results, that toxicologist is offering an “opinion.”
What is there that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing without poison. Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison.
Analytical toxicology has its roots in forensic applications, and it involves the application of the tools of analytical chemistry to the qualitative and/or quantitative estimation of chemicals that may exert effects on living organisms. Forensic toxicology involves the use of toxicology for the purposes of the law. The most common application is to identify any chemical that may serve as a causative agent in inflicting injury or death on humans, or in causing damage to property. There is no substitute for the unequivocal identification of a specific chemical substance that is demonstrated to be present in tissues from the victim at a sufficient concentration to explain the injury with certainty.
To aid in deciding whether adverse effects of xenobiotics contribute to death, injury, or other harm to persons or property, great efforts are made to initiate and implement analytical procedures in a forensically credible manner. Examples include measurement of ethanol in blood or breath, testing urine for the presence of drugs or their metabolites, diagnosis and treatment of health problems induced by chemical substances, therapeutic drug monitoring, detection of drugs and other chemicals used for the purpose of performance-enhancement, monitoring worker exposure to toxic hazards and determination of toxicants and potential metabolites in the environment.
When the nature of a suspected poison is unknown, a systematic, standardized approach must be used to identify the presence of most common toxic substances. An approach that was first suggested by Chapuis in 1873 in Elements de Toxicologie is based on the origin or nature of the toxic agent. Such a system can be characterized as follows:
Gases—Gases are most simply measured by means of gas chromatography.
Volatile substances—These are generally liquids of various chemical types that vaporize at ambient temperatures. ...