Toxicology is a branch of science that studies the nature and action of poisons and also the adverse health effects of chemical materials. Many chemicals and even drugs are with toxicity, the ability to produce injury once it reaches a susceptible site. The goal of toxicity assessment is to identify adverse effects of a substance. To explore dose, substances are tested in both acute and chronic models.
Chemicals normally regarded as “harmless” may produce toxins if added to a biological system in a sufficient amount or dose. There are three main routes by which hazardous chemicals enter the body:
• Absorption through the respiratory tract via inhalation.
• Absorption through the skin.
• Absorption through the digestive tract.
Types of Effects
Acute poisoning: it is characterized by rapid absorption of the substance and the exposure is sudden and severe. Normally, a single large exposure is involved, such as carbon monoxide or cyanide poisoning.
Chronic poisoning: it is characterized by prolonged or repeated low level exposures of a duration measured in days, months or years.
Local poisoning: it refers to the site of action of an agent and means the action takes place at the point or area of contact. The site may be skin, mucous membranes, the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal system, eyes, etc.
Systemic poisoning: it refers to a site of action other than the point of contact and presupposes absorption has taken place.
Cumulative poisons: they are characterized by materials that tend to build up in the body as a result of numerous chronic exposures. The effects are not seen until a critical body burden is reached.
Substance in Combination: When two or more hazardous materials are present at the same time, the resulting effect can be greater than the effect predicted based on the individual substances.
Factors that affect toxicity:
•Rate of entry and route of exposure
•Age can affect the capacity to repair tissue damage.
•Previous exposure can lead to tolerance, increased sensitivity or make no difference.
•Host factors, including genetic predisposition and the gender of the exposed individual.
•State of health, physical condition and life style can affect the toxic response. Preexisting disease can result in increased sensitivity.
•Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure.
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