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Poisons, Alcohol & Drugs, Lecture #1

Unit #7. This lecture covers the vocabulary of poisons.

Rachel Stagner

on 28 July 2018

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Transcript of Poisons, Alcohol & Drugs, Lecture #1

"All substances are poisons. There is none which is not. The right dose differentiates a poison and remedy."
- Paracelsus (1495-1541), Swiss physician and chemist

"If all those buried in our cemeteries who were poisoned could raise their hands, we would probably be shocked by the numbers."

-John Harris Trestrail, Criminal Poisoning

the vocabulary of poisons

Postmortem—medical examiner or coroner
Criminal—motor vehicle accidents (MVA)
Workplace—drug testing
Sports—human and animal
Environment—industrial, catastrophic, terrorism

: substances that cause injury to the health of a living thing on contact or absorption by interfering with natural body processes.

Toxic substances may:
Be a cause of death
Contribute to death
Cause impairment
Explain behavior

Forensic Science
Unit #7 - Lecture 1
After viewing this lecture you will understand....
Toxicology: Poisons and Alcohol
Forensic Toxicology
What is a toxin?
What makes a substance toxic?
Ms. Stagner, 2012-2016
the study of the adverse effects of chemicals or physical agents on living organisms

Environmental—air, water, soil
Consumer—foods, cosmetics, drugs
Medical, clinical, forensic

The chemical or physical form of the substance
The mode of entry into the body
Body weight and physiological conditions of the victim, including age and sex
The time period of exposure
The presence of other chemicals in the body or in the dose

How Can We Measure Toxicity?
– Lethal dose of a substance for 50% of a given population
Measured in mg/kg (refers to milligrams (mg) of substance per kilogram (kg) of body weight
Determined by feeding a chemical to rats or mice
However, estimating lethal doses for humans based on those for lab animals is shaky, because resistance can be very different across species.

Time Period of Exposure
Acute Toxicity
– a dose of toxin large enough to cause immediate problems including death (hours or days after exposure).
Chronic Exposure
– a small dose of toxin over a long period of time causing long term build up and problems.

LD50 (rat,oral)


a taste to a drop

5–15 g/kg

relatively harmless

practically nontoxic





more than 1 quart

to a pint

to an ounce

to a teaspoon

Correlation to Ingestion by 150-lb Adult Human

to a quart

Over 15 g/kg

500–5,000 mg/kg

50–500 mg/kg

1–50 mg/kg

<1 mg/kg

Toxicity Classification
Some Lethal Dose Values
What is toxicology?
What is a toxin?
What is the difference between acute and chronic exposure to toxins?
What is a LD50 value?
How are LD50 values determined?
What is the most lethal substance on the following table? (Hint, make sure to look at the units) *click on the table to make it big*

Check Yourself
Full transcript