Forensic toxicology is a science that deals with the criminal use of poisons. Forensic means “belonging to the courts.” Toxicology is the study of the effects of poisons on living organisms. Forensic toxicologists are employed in the medical examiners office of state and local governments.
Forensic toxicologist will perform a broad screening of body fluids, such as blood, bile, or urine, to test for toxic substances.
Forensic toxicologists use very sophisticated laboratory equipment in their testing procedures. Sometimes, working from only a small amount of tissue or body fluid, they must search for the presence of drugs, alcohol, or other toxic substances. Forensic toxicologists can have many different specialties and backgrounds—some have degrees in biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, environmental sciences, or related specialty fields.
Forensic toxicologists educational pathway:
-High School: biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, algebra, physics.
-College: chemistry, biochemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology.
-Graduate Degree: Forensics, Toxicology
Forensic toxicology typically includes:
-Post-mortem forensic toxicology, which determines the absence or presence of drugs and their metabolites, chemicals in human fluids and tissues; and evaluates their role as determinants or contributory factors in the cause and manner of death.
-Human-performance forensic toxicology, which determines the absence or presence of ethanol and other drugs and chemicals in blood, breath, hair, or other specimen(s), and evaluates their role in modifying human performance or behavior.
-Forensic urine drug testing, which determines the absence or presence of drugs and their metabolites in urine to demonstrate prior use or abuse