Difference between terms Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins

terms like Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins, shares the common information about poisonous substance harming the humans. However, have minute difference

FORENSIC SCIENCEFORENSIC TOXICOLOGY

Shubham Kumar

1/29/20244 min read

With advances in science and technology, various terms have been evolved, which shares the common information. For example, terms like Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins, shares the common information about poisonous substance harming the humans. However, have minute difference in their definitions.

In this article, we are going to explore the correct definitions of Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins. Moreover, clearing the confusion between definitions as well.

To understand the terms Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins, first you need to understand what toxicology and Poison means.

Toxicology refers to the branch of science that deals with the scientific study of poisons. The study involves their composition, hazards and potential applications. The name toxicology is derived from the Greek word 'TOXICON', which means an 'arrow'. Due to advancements in different fields of science, the toxicology has been undergone in major evolutions. Therefore, the modern-day toxicology is defined as the study of adverse effects of both chemical and physical agents (Poisons\Toxins) on the biological systems. Father of Toxicology-Paracelsus

Poison is defined as any substance which holds the potential to harm or kill the live body on consumption. A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body. You might swallow it, inhale it, inject it, or absorb it through your skin. Moreover, any substance can be poisonous if too much is taken.

Definition of terms: Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins

The terms holds grudge to confuse the readers, let's uncover the difference behind them

Toxic

It is the term related to the substance, which holds the potential to cause harm or kill any live biological system, when consumed. The term toxin often describes the poisonous or deadly effects on the body by inhalation, ingestion, absorption or by direct physical contact with any chemical. Toxins are prepared by the chemical processes, for their application in various science branches. However, their unrecommended consumption produces adverse effects on the live biological systems. Moreover, these substances are known for their poisonous abilities and are capable of causing death or serious debilitations.

For Example: Toxic Wastes like Mercury, Toxic Radio Active Gases, Insecticides which are highly toxic to the birds.

Toxicity

The terms toxicity refers to the degree of which the chemical substance or a particular poisonous substance can inflict damage to the live biological substances. Furthermore, the toxicity also suggests the ability of the toxic substance to inflict damage on the live biological system. For example, the Toxicity of Toxic substance cyanide is high.

Toxicants

The terms toxicants is generally used to describe the toxic substance which is introduced in open environment. These toxicants are usually homogenous or alkalis, which means they are easily soluble or gets dissolved in the surroundings. For Example: Carcinogens, Mutagens, Allergens, Neurotoxin and Endocrine disrupters are the different types of toxicants.

Toxins

The term toxins is derived form the Greek word 'Toxin', which means environmental poison. Toxins is also a form of poison which do possess similar definition like toxic, however, has one difference. Indeed, toxins are the poisonous substance, however, unlike toxic, toxins are the poisonous substance produced by the bacteria in plants and animals. Ludwig Brieger first used the term toxins. Toxin can be small molecules, peptides or proteins that are capable of causing disease on contact.

Clearing the Confusion between the definition of terms Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins

Assume a substance: Fertilizers

If that substance (Fertilizer) possesses any hazards or poisonous effects on the live biological system, then it will be called as Toxic. Fertilizer, does possess potential hazards, therefore it is called as Toxic.

When a live biological system is subjected to get in contact with Fertilizers, he will suffer with fatal circumstances like skin disease, neuro disease, breathing disease etc. Moreover, can also cause, lungs and skin cancer. That means its degree to affect the live biological on contact is high. Therefore, the toxicity of the Fertilizer (Toxic) is high.

Fertilizer is said to be as toxic until it is present in factories. Once it's deployed in the agriculture farm. It is introduced to the open environment, therefore, now it is called as Toxicant. The difference between the Toxic and Toxicant is that- Unlike Toxic, Toxicant is introduced to the open environment.

Since, fertilizers are manufacture via chemical process it is called as toxic. If a poisonous substance if produced by the bacteria in plants and animals, it will called as Toxins. The difference between the Toxic and Toxins is that- Unlike Toxic, Toxins is organic and produced by bacteria in plants and animals.

Do you know that Forensic Toxicology uses the applications of Toxic, Toxicity, Toxicants and Toxins to investigate the crime.

Forensic toxicology, a vital branch of forensic science, involves the meticulous analysis of biological samples like blood, urine, or tissue to ascertain the presence and concentration of drugs, alcohol, and other toxic substances within the human body.

It serves the purpose of law by employing toxicological principles for legal investigations, standing as a unique blend of analytical chemistry and fundamental toxicology. The resulting toxicology report is instrumental, offering crucial insights into the substances within an individual, determining whether their levels align with therapeutic dosages or exceed harmful thresholds.

Essentially, forensic toxicology explores the medical and legal dimensions of the adverse effects of chemicals on the human body. Notably, Mateu Joseph Bonaventura Orfila i Rotger is revered as the Father of Forensic Toxicology. Emphasizing the historical significance of this field in the realm of scientific inquiry and justice.

Reference

  • "Forensic DNA Typing" by John M. Butler

  • "The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation" by Ngaire E. Genge

  • "Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction" by Jim Fraser

  • "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" by Ross M. Gardner