Role of Environmental Toxicologists in Litigation

Environmental toxicology refers to the multidisciplinary branch of science that deals with the effects of chemicals on the environment. Toxicological reports are generally used to determine the possible health effects of toxic and chemical exposures, as well as need for future medical monitoring. As a result, environmental toxicologists are usually brought in as expert witnesses in class action lawsuits against organizations whose negligence led to chemical exposure.

If someone is inadvertently exposed to toxic or irritant chemicals, it can result in a myriad of medical conditions like upper and lower respiratory tract illnesses (asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, etc). Other times, it can also cause kidney failure, liver damage, cardiovascular problems, and so on. An environmental toxicologist can provide scientific evidence regarding the cause and effect of toxic exposure and the ensuing health effects.

Aside from serving as witnesses in lawsuits, environmental toxicologists can also help when it comes to creating and enforcing laws on air pollution and environmental protection. Their findings can be used as a basis to create new pollution control standards. Toxicologists also identify the severity of the damage to determine the best possible solution to the problem. Be it expert testimony or serving as consultants for the government, environmental toxicologists plays a vital role.

 

Precision and Accuracy: The Key in Solving a Crime

You can say that forensics is what you get when you combine law enforcement with science, although forensic toxicologists can also be seen working in medical facilities and drug-testing agencies. Regardless of where their profession leads them, precision and accuracy are the words all forensic personnel live by, especially the toxicologists. After all, a wrong analysis of a certain chemical found in the crime scene can lead to the  acquittal of the liable.

Chemicals are one of the most difficult things to study even for a scientist because they’re fragile, volatile, and highly reactive. For instance, drugs ingested by humans undergo absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion in a matter of hours. The chemicals in the drugs tend to take a different form in each phase. Only forensic toxicologists can determine the exact nature of the drugs using precision instruments and accurate testing.

However, their job doesn’t end there; they must also present their findings to law enforcement personnel in a language they can easily understand. This means translating technical research papers into simple reports, which must be done carefully, lest some parts of the findings will be lost in translation. Sometimes, the toxicologist can even be called by the court to testify and explain his or her findings to the judge and jury.