Toxicology, the science of poisons (composed of the Greek words toxicos – poisonous and logos) is a branch of science in biology and medicine that is closely related to pharmacology.
Unlike the pharmacology, it studied various chemicals toxic effects on other living organisms, especially its toxic effect on humans. The main criterion for a substance’s toxicity is dose.
If the dose is large enough virtually all given substances receive a toxic effect.
Many substances listed as toxic can only be potentially toxic through their toxic metabolites.
One of such substances is methanol, which itself is not toxic, but is metabolized in the liver to toxic formic acid and formaldehyde. Some drugs become toxic by conversion in the liver. Another example is paracetamol present in painkillers. In overdoses of paracetamol form a toxic metabolite that damages the liver.
When it is about the toxicity of a substance, it is usually the quantity or concentration of the substance that is important. Some substances have a beneficial effect on the body in small amounts, but are dangerous in high concentrations.
The presence of a potentially toxic substance in an organism does not necessarily lead to poisoning. However, the excessive intake of a medical drug can be toxic. The toxicity of a substance is determined by the toxicity determination. The dose of a particular substance that is lethal for a living organism is called the lethal dose.
An exception to this rule is the carcinogenic substances, when you can theoretically have a molecule sufficient to exert their harmful effects. It is therefore debatable whether these substances have the effect threshold that should be specified. Another exception to this rule is the allergens also theoretically sufficient from a single molecule to trigger an allergic reaction.
Different individuals are sensitive to many substances, depending on the genetic variation in certain liver enzymes.
From a certain point of view, the history of toxicology dates back at least to the Greco-Roman antiquity, where the effects of lead and mercury, and various animal and plant poisons were already known.
In the nineteenth century doctors, along with the development of forensic chemists as Friedrich Accumont, have been called by authorities to detect poisons and adulterated or dangerous products, but the laboratories of toxicology and ecotoxicology at universities have really been developed in the 1980s, when awareness of environmental degradation and its impact on health has encouraged countries rich enough to acquire them. They did not last sometimes for lack of credit or interest from universities that housed them.
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