Environmental toxicology is a branch of science that studies how various chemicals affect the environment, specifically wildlife and ecosystems. Toxicology, in general, studies how foreign chemicals affect the human body, this particular branch (environmental toxicology) has researchers studying the adverse effects of pollution to the overall state of ecosystems, fauna, flora, and human health as well.
Toxicologists in the environmental field usually take soil, air, and water samples for study just as much as an ordinary toxicologist performs biopsies to ascertain the effect of a certain chemical on a sample body organ or tissue. The results of their analysis help them identify pollutants and predict danger levels in the ecosystem where they took the sample.
Specialists can also opt to focus their research on one ecosystem in particular. For instance, he may study the effects of factory smoke on the health and behavior of animals in nearby forests, or the effects of an oil spill on marine life, and many more.
Perhaps one of the most common uses of the findings of an environmental toxicologist is for government analysis and enactment of legislation that seeks to protect Mother Nature. Furthermore, environmental lawyers consider the findings of these experts as evidence for litigating companies and individuals who violate the environmental laws.
The outcome of criminal cases should always be decided on evidence beyond reasonable doubt; realistically speaking, the road to that decision is naturally paved with innumerable hurdles which the prosecution has to surmount should it hope to win. To advance this goal, courts often rely on evidence gathered by the investigation or assessment of professionals called expert witnesses. Some of these witnesses include weapons and ballistics experts, criminal psychologists, and forensic medicine specialists.
The trusted medical expert witness can either be specializing in pathology, psychology, dental analysis, toxicology, or many other fields of study that can help the case by providing a detailed profile of the crime, which will be admissible as court evidence. Moreover, expert witnesses also have varying roles to play in the court proceedings, as stated in an article by ExpertPages.com.
Forensic toxicology, in particular, is a study involving the analysis and testing of different drugs, alcohol and poisonous substances present in bodily fluids.
“Tragedy struck on April 13, 2013 when Jabari S. Kemp ran a red light, resulting in a collision with another vehicle carrying 5 people. Due to the impact, both cars crossed the median divider causing the other car to roll and eject 4 people out of the vehicle.
ER doctor Johnathan Greenfield, who treated the victims of the crash, found extremely high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical found in marijuana, in Kemp’s system. In a case such as this, a doctor may be called in as a medical expert witness to provide evidence and an objective opinion regarding the medical aspects of the issue to make a strong case.
Cases such as Kemp’s require testimonies that may be too complex for non-doctors to understand. But with the help of medical evidence and thorough reports from experts, justice can be served for those who commit negligent and criminal acts.”
“Forensic toxicology helps lawmakers serve justice in a number of ways. From detecting illegal substances in the body to uncovering trace poisons during autopsy, forensic methods can be used to establish facts and gather evidence that can make or break a case.
This past June, an operator of an excavator was proven to be high on marijuana and on prescription narcotics when part of the building he was working on collapsed onto a nearby store. The discovery allowed for proper execution of the law, taking one more potential danger off the streets.
Apart from using scientific methodologies to make similar discoveries of substance abuse, forensic toxicologists also serve as expert witnesses in court. Putting their education and comprehensive training to use, experts help make a strong against criminals who use narcotics or poisons with the evidence they gather.”
While some elements are essential to all humans for survival or development, others have chemical compositions that are extremely harmful to the body. Professionals like forensic toxicologists are tasked with identifying and classifying these substances and their effects. Here are some examples of these potentially fatal substances:
This substance, whether as is or mixed into a compound, is a pretty potent poison. People mainly ingest it through water systems that are contaminated by the substance from nearby mines. Arsenic attacks the body’s metabolic process at the cellular level and may cause death and mutation.
Lead is the most versatile metal in the known universe, yet it also poses as one of the greatest chemical threats to man. This material is a bioaccumulative toxin, which basically means it can bide its time within your system, and when enough of it is already in your body, it strikes and leads to sterility, stunted growth, and other disorders.
Mercury is a common neurotoxin, which means it attacks the nervous system, thus affecting and impairing its functions. Most of the conditions caused by mercury ingestion (often via airborne channels) can be permanent. Aside from directly affecting humans, mercury poisoning can afflict marine life, infecting the fish that you eat, until the harmful poison is passed on to you.
When oil spills occur in any body of water, the toxins released can adversely affect marine life in the area. Moreover, it creates enormous environmental hazards on the human population and other living organisms that are within its reach. An immediate clean-up may prevent further harm, but it can have long lasting effects on the environment that may be detrimental to future generations.
In fact, not only oil spills but all kinds of toxins released in the surrounding air, land, and sea, whether accidental or intentional, can cause considerable damage to the environment. Prevention of further occurences of these harmful substances being released can be done through environmental toxicology. It is the science that deals with the study of how exposure to toxic chemicals affects humans and their surroundings.
Environmental toxicology can help people prevent possible exposure to chemical hazards that may be present in any form. Unfortunately, most of these hazards are man-made and adversely affect the air we breathe. Consequently, this field of scientific study is also used to determine legal liability in court actions against those who cause the release of these pollutants.
The chemical, biological, and physical harm caused by toxins can have long lasting effects on the environment. Environmental toxicology can help people avoid these hazards and hold those who cause the harm responsible.c