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Forensic Toxicology

Forensic toxicology is the use of scientific techniques to aid medical or legal investigation of death, poisoning, and drug use.

Forensic Toxicology

Forensic Toxicology

A Forensic Toxicologist may use a variety of analytical instrumentation and techniques to isolate and detect intoxicating substances in various kinds of biological samples.
Isolating the toxic substance from the sample is often the most difficult, as forensic tissues are often old, contaminated or degraded. The sample has to be concentrated and purified as much as possible before being analyzed for identification.

Because many poisons are changed by human metabolism after ingestion, it is important for the forensic toxicologists to gather as much background information from the investigating agency as possible. This information will be used to consider all possibilities of a toxilogical source when presented the data from the analytical results of testing.

The most common types of samples the forensic toxicologists works includes blood, hair, saliva, urine, eye tissue and skin. They may be asked to examine the samples for organic compounds, metals or drugs and present their finding in court as an expert witness.

  • Othmane says:

    Dr Rowsell,It was good to meet your scientific team there and to dussics some of the papers presented on hair alcohol testing the quantity of data you have is very impressive. Interested to hear that you and your colleagues, along with many of the other delegates there, maintain that currently hair alcohol testing remains most reliable as an indicator of chronic excessive alcohol use, rather than for moderate drinking or abstinence monitoring. I think much more data is required (than was presented at the meeting) before the application of hair alcohol tests can be extended beyond providing one piece of the jigsaw in helping to determine chronic excessive use. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

    May 18, 2012 at 1:55 am

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