What is a Poison? It's types, classification, sources and route of administration.

The term poison refers to the any substance which holds potential to cause harm to a live human biological system or a living tissue. A poison is any substance

FORENSIC SCIENCEFORENSIC TOXICOLOGY

Shubham Kumar

1/29/20247 min read

man in black jacket and black pants standing on fire
man in black jacket and black pants standing on fire
white clouds over city buildings during daytime
white clouds over city buildings during daytime

Since time being in force, the method of execution of crime have been under evolution multiple times, however, except one crime, that is poison. Poison stands as the most prominent Sealth killer which has deep rooted historic parlances since time of Mauryan empire. Moreover, poison undergoes rapid development potentially evolving itself in variety of forms.

In this article we are going to understand about what exactly a poison is, what are its types, what are its mode of administration and what are its classification.

Definition | Poison

The term poison refers to the any substance which holds potential to cause harm to a live human biological system or a living tissue. A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body. An individual might swallow it, inhale it, inject it, or absorb it through their skin. Moreover, the nature of any substance can become poisonous if the quantity of consumption increases. The common sugar we use in tea can become a poison if taken too much, it can cause diabetic attack, leads to sudden death. Similarly, the oxygen we breath can kill us via cardiac arrest, if injected directly in our veins.

Just like a normal consumable item can become poison, a poison can became a medicine too. Notably, arsenic, the most devastated metallic poison is used to treat harmful disease like syphilis. Therefore, you must understand the very thin line between a poison and medicine. Any substance can possess both curing and poisonous nature, and this nature depends upon its concentration. If any substance taken in too much amount it will cause harmful effects to the live tissue and thus called as poison.

Poison is originated from the Latin word 'Potus', that refers to a liquid substance used for causing harm to a living organism. This suggests that poison finds its existence which traces back to historic ages, prevalent because of its ability of Sealth kill.

Sources of Poison

As we know, from a common edible item to high define metallic substance, everything can act as poison, therefore, we are surrounded by multiple number of areas which possess poisonous nature. These areas are called the sources of poison. The scientists have classified all the areas into three categories, majorly called as sources of poison.

Domestic or Household Sources: It contains those elements or substance which are present in the households or present for domestic purposes. Substances like Detergents, disinfectant, cleaning agents, rodenticides etc.

Agricultural or Horticultural Sources: It contains those elements of substance which are present for the utilization of primary sector purposes. Primary sector purposes like agriculture, horticulture, kitchen garden, nursery, etc. Substances like Insecticides, Pesticides, Fungicides, etc.

Commercial Sources: It contains those elements of substance which are present for the utilization of secondary sector purposes. Primary sector purposes like industries, chemical factory, glass furnaces, etc. Substances like harmful gases, glass particles, intense heat, harmful chemicals, etc.

Elements of Poison

Poison encompasses 4 elements which defines the severity of its poisoning effect on any live biological system or living tissue. These four elements are the poison, the poisoned organism, injury to the cell, and symptoms or signs of death.

Poison: The identification of the type of poison consumed by the live tissue is one of the main aspects to identify the severity. Usually, poison is categorized as plant and animal poison, however, exists in eight different types of classifications. Each and every type of poison possess its unique ability and unique target in human biological system.

The poisoned organism: The consumption of poison is one thing, however, the other thing which influences the severity if the immune of organism. The immune of the organism on which the poison is inflicted predicts the level of severity to a great extent.

Injury to the cell: The organ or the part of the biological system on which the poison is acting have direct relation with its severity. The poison which effects on brain, heart and lungs are much more severe than that of poison affecting on eye, kidney and liver.

Symptoms or Signs of Death: In most of the cases, investigators or doctors predicts the type of poison by the physical appearance of the organism and finds its cure, while saving the organism. However, most of sever poison disguised their symptoms with natural occurring. For example, increasing the level of sodium in blood causes cardiac arrest. Therefore, on examination, the cardiac arrect will occurs as natural occurring, however, though autopsy, and further test, it will be detected as the poisoned by sodium. Therefore, to detect the severity of poison by the symptoms or signs are bit unusual.

Route of Administration of Poison

The method of administration of poison has under evolution since ages, therefore, now we are present with multiple route though which the poison can be administered. These methods are called routes of administration. There are multiple routes of administration of poison, which are categorized as enteral and parenteral routes.

Enteral Routes

Enteral routes include the administration of poison by a live human biological system though the application of mucous over the substance. This route encompasses three routes, oral, sublingual, and rectal.

Oral Route: Orla routes is regarded as the most common route. In includes the administration of poison by the mouth. The poisonous substance is completely swallowed and then absorbed by the mucus wall in digestive tracts. Poison taken from this route directly affects GIT, the upper respiratory tract, stomach, and other organs. Example of these type of poisons are- Cyanide and Arsenic.

Sublingual Route: The sublingual route is regarded as the most prevalent among terrorists. It includes the administration of poison by placing the substance beneath the tongue. The poisonous substance is absorbed by the buccal mucous. It shows rapid absorption and affects the systematic circulation system.

Rectal Route: The rectal route administration includes the administration of poison by inserting the substance into anus. The substance shows rapid absorption by the bloodstream regulated by subsequent mucus membranes. Example- Speed and Ecstasy

Parenteral Route

Parenteral routes include the administration of poison by a live human biological system though the application of bloodstreams over the substance. In this route, the poison is directly injected into the blood streams for rapid action. This route encompasses seven routes, Intravenous, Intradermal, Intraosseous, Intra-arterial, Intramuscular, Subcutaneous and Inhalation.

Intravenous: In this method of administration, the poison is directly injected into the body through veins. This provides a direct route for poison to get in the biological system and thus circulated rapidly in the system. This shows the instantaneous symptoms and causes immediate death.

Intradermal: In this method of administration, the poison is absorbed through the surface of the skin. This is majorly found in the cases of chronic poisoning.

Intraosseous: In this method of administration, the poison is inserted into the bone marrow of the body. The action of this administration is fast, therefore, causes instant death.

Intra-arterial: In this method of administration, the poison is injected into the arteries, eg- femoral artery.

Intramuscular: In this method of administration, the poison is injected into the muscles of the body, eg, upper arm, thighs and buttocks.

Subcutaneous: In this method of administration, a needle is inserted into the fatty tissue just beneath the skin.

Inhalation: In this method of administration, the poison is given in vaporized form or a spray of suspended micro fined particles absorbed by simple diffusions from the mucous membrane of the trachea and lungs.

Classification of poisons

Since time being in force, the nature and appearance of poison have undergone various developments, potentially giving birth to multiple types of poisons.

Classifications on the basis of Corrosives poison: A substance which causes corrosion and destruction of the tissues with which it comes into contact.

Classification on the basis of Irritant Poison: The poisons which cause irritation, pain and excessive vomiting are known as Irritant Poisons.

Classification on the basis of Neurotics Poison: Those poisons which have the potential effects on the central nervous system, spinal cord, the neuron transmitters and the peripheral nervous system. Example alcohol, opium, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines

Classifications on the basis of Cardiac Poison: The poisons which affects the cardiac system, for example Digitalis, tobacco etc.

Classification on the basis of Asphyxiants: Those poisons which holds prominent grounds in rapturing the smooth function of respiratory system, therefore, to cause death by asphyxia. Example- Carbon Monoxide.

Classification on the basis of state of Poison: The poison is found in varied states of matter ranging from solid state to gaseous state. Poison in solid states do not get absorbed easily into the blood, therefore, liquid and gaseous are fastest effecting poisons.

Classifications on the basis of Miscellaneous: This category contains any kind of substance which occurs in daily use, however, if increased exposer, acts a poison. For example, the common sugar can cause the diabetic attack if taken in excess.

Classification on the basis condition of the body: The consumption of poison is one thing, however, the other thing which directs the type of poison. The immune of the organism, the age of organism, the allergy and the presence of any complications in an organism can increase of decrease the effect of poison.

Plant Poison and Animal Poison

Instead of above eight classifications, another basis classification exists, which is plant and animal poison.

Plant Poison: Those poison which are originated from the plants and are capable to cause neurotic, spinal, cerebral, cardiac, irritant and miscellaneous effects on live biological system. For example- Datura, cannabis, marijuana, Kief, Hashish, Opium, etc.

Animal Poison: Those poison which are originated from the animals and are capable to cause neurotic, spinal, cerebral, cardiac, irritant and miscellaneous effects on live biological system. For example- snake venom and scorpion poison.

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