Provides various aspects of toxicology jobs including what is toxicology, what do toxicologists do and where do they work
What is Toxicology
Toxicology is the study of toxins(poisons). Scientists study the effects of
drugs, environmental contaminants, and substances found in food, water, air
and soil to determine their toxicity. Applied Toxicology research can
improve the health of humans, plants, animals and their environments.
Toxicology research can be preventive by identifying harmful effects of new
products and by communicating these impacts to regulators, manufacturers and
to the public.
What Do Toxicologists Do?
Toxicologists conduct research with advanced techniques in molecular
biology, analytical chemistry and biomedical sciences. Toxicologists conduct
studies of specific chemicals of social and economic importance.
Toxicologists assess whether particular chemicals, processes or situations
pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. They may assist
in setting rules and regulations to protect human health and the
environment. Toxicology research has many specialties: chemical carcinogens,
reproductive and developmental toxicology, neurotoxicology,
immunotoxicology, inhalation toxicology, risk assessment and others.
Toxicologists analyze biological and environmental samples to identify the
chemical composition of narcotics, drugs, contaminants and other substances
in blood, urine or other biological and environmental samples to determine
the levels of concentration. This data is used to assess impairment,
poisoning or adulteration. Toxicologists evaluate evidence from tampering
and contamination cases. They document results, preserve evidence, and
maintain chain of custody in criminal investigations. They may testify in
court regarding their findings.
What do qualifications do Toxicologists need?
A Toxicologist has at least a Masters degree in chemistry, biochemistry, a
biological science, or forensic science. Excellent computer and laboratory
skills are critical. They need knowledge of the principles, practices and
application of Toxicology, of chemical and physical laboratory equipment and
material, of principles of physics and practices of physical testing, and of
college level mathematics. Application of chemical, biological and physical
sciences, and risk assessment models associated with exposure to toxic and
hazardous substances are all necessary. They need the skills to evaluate and
analyze scientific data. Toxicologists need to be capable of explaining
facts, interpreting situations, or advising individuals of alternative or
appropriate courses of action. Good problem solving skills applying
analytical, technical, or scientific thinking. Good laboratory practice,
project management skills and statistics experience are essential. Accuracy
and attention to detail are crucial. Toxicologists report the results of
laboratory tests to all pertinent parties. Their work environment may
include exposure to physical elements or frequent exposure to health
hazards. The physical demands are light with significant walking and
operating standard and innovative equipment
What areas do Toxicologists cover in their courses?
Prospective toxicologists need a degree in biology or chemistry, with
coursework in organic chemistry, physics, college level mathematics,
including calculus. Higher level courses in biochemistry, molecular biology
and physiology are encouraged. Masters and Doctoral level and Post-Doctoral
studies address areas of specialization.
What areas of specialization may Toxicologists choose?
Three primary specialties are Forensic Toxicology, Environmental Toxicology
and Biological Toxicology. Other pertinent fields include Teaching, Product
Safety Evaluation, Public Service, Regulatory Affairs, Consulting and
Where do Toxicologists work?
Toxicologists may work for governments. They may develop and enforce laws to
ensure that chemicals are produced, used and disposed of safely. They may
participate in defense studies. They may work in academic institutions to
teach others about the safe use of chemicals and to train future
toxicologists or conduct research. Some Toxicologists work for research
foundations or pharmaceutical or chemical companies or private industries
with consumer products.