How Forensic Toxicologists Help Save Lives

When we think of forensic toxicologists, we usually think of investigators seen on popular crime shows with their fingerprint powders and high-tech photographic equipment. However, they do more than just sit in labs and solve crimes. Forensic toxicology is also about identifying foreign substances in a body and how much of it is present. This field of expertise has applications in various areas more than crime-solving.

Environmental Toxicology

Poisoning isn’t always due to a person secretly placing toxic substances in another person’s food or drink. Humans can likewise be exposed to toxic materials in nature, whether the source is natural or man-made. Some examples of toxic elements present in nature are asbestos and lead.

Asbestos is usually used as a fire retardant. However, too much of it in a home, and the residents would be breathing in a lot of asbestos particles, which can eventually cause lung cancer. Lead, usually found in old pipes, can mix with drinking water and be ingested by people, thereby resulting in lead poisoning. Identifying the presence of these toxins is part of a forensic toxicologist’s work.

Expert Testimony

Court cases need expert evidence. Many forensic toxicologists are called upon by both prosecutors and defense lawyers to give their knowledgeable opinion about various cases, ranging from drunk driving to poisoning cases with circumstantial evidence. Providing the right information can help keep innocents out of jail and ensure that justice is aptly served.


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