Tox Topic


What is Toxicology?

The Society of Toxicology defines toxicology as the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical, or biological agents on people, animals, and the environment.  Toxicologists are scientists trained to investigate, interpret, and communicate the nature of those effects.   Most toxicologists focus on chemical agents, although some are experts about harmful effects of physical agents such as radiation.  Toxicology is an interdisciplinary science, integrating information from biology and virtually all of its subspecialties (e.g., genetics, endocrinology and molecular ...

Read More


Occupational Safety and Health

Anyone that has been in a high school chemistry laboratory has no doubt noticed the numerous postings stressing laboratory safety.  While there are both physical and chemical hazards in these laboratories, it’s toxicologists that provide information involving hazardous chemicals.  The chemistry lab is a short term experience for the student, but it’s the workplace for the instructor.  Indeed, potentially hazardous chemicals are used in many workplaces. In 1973, Stellman and Daum called the “workplace” a battleground in the war against poisonous chemicals and ...

Read More


Exposures During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

The Toxicology Education Foundation is pleased to be partnering with MotherToBaby/California to expand access to information about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  MotherToBaby (https://mothertobaby.org/) is a service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) dedicated to providing evidence-based information to mothers, health care professionals, and the general public.  OTIS experts create well-referenced Fact Sheets offered in English and Spanish that focus on frequently asked questions ...

Read More


Pesticides: The Challenge of Controlling Pests When Balancing Safety with Effectiveness

First let's define pest.  A pest can be almost any living thing considered by us, humans, to be undesirable; for example, insects, rats, mice and other animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and viruses.  Even deer, when they go after your shrubs or vegetable garden, can be considered nuisance animals or pests.  The challenge of pesticide use is to maximize their effectiveness against pests while minimizing their hazards to humans, other animals, and the environment. As with most complex issues, there are bound to be tradeoffs. OK, so what is a pesticide? A pesticide ...

Read More


“Is It Safe?” Video – English with Korean subtitles

NEW! TEF offers its Aurora Award-winning "Is It Safe?" video in several major languages, the most recently produced with Korean subtitles. TEF provides audiovisual materials like this for the public and for health professionals to use in presentations to the public in partnership with NIEHS and others in the private sector. The goal of "Is It Safe?" is to empower the public to make good decisions about risk associated with every day products.  

Read More


Dietary Supplements

A well balanced diet often satisfies your body’s needs, yet nutritional deficiencies can still occur in people maintaining a healthy diet.    This discussion is intended as a first look at some tips for consumers seeking reliable information about dietary supplements, whether or not these products have been recommended by a health professional.  Awareness of at least a few key points to remember and recommended resources for those choosing such products are the soundest advice we can offer. Some definitions and other background information  The U.S. Food and ...

Read More


History of Toxicology

Paracelsus, pictured here, was a 16th century physician and is considered to be the “Father of Toxicology.”  Toxicology as a distinct scientific discipline is fairly modern; however, knowledge of poisons and poisoning incidents date back to ancient times.  Humankind’s desire to assure its health and safety has always been present, but drawing conclusions about harmful chemicals required learning.  Initially this was done by trial and error, where substances were tested to see which were safe and which were best avoided.  Written documents dating back to around ...

Read More


Radiation

The word “radiation” often evokes fear in people.  What is “radiation” and how does it affect us?  Let’s learn a bit more about this term.  Radiation is a form of energy to which we are constantly exposed and which may or may not have health consequences. It is given off by matter as either rays (or waves) of pure energy, or high-speed particles. The former, rays or waves of energy, is known as electromagnetic energy. Some types of electromagnetic energy are sunlight, x-rays, radar, and radio waves. The latter, particle radiation, includes, for example alpha ...

Read More


Nanotechnology

There is a lot of excitement about nanotechnology.  “Nano” has become a familiar term in the world today but there is often little understanding of what it is.  For example, a poll of 1,001 adults in 2009 found 90 percent of Americans think that the public should be better informed about the development of cutting-edge technologies like nanotechnology (Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies).  We will provide some basics that can help you understand more about nanotechnology and especially about how the safety of products made with nanotechnology is established. ...

Read More


Pool Chemical Safety

Summer weather often means more swimming pool time, although many indoor pools, spas and hot tubs are used year round.   A number of potentially hazardous chemicals are added to provide continuous disinfection within the water of swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs at all times and to maintain “balance” in terms of pH, alkalinity and hardness.  Consumers who maintain their own pools purchase, transport, store, use and dispose of these chemicals. Pool chemicals are safe when handled properly, but can cause injury when mishandled. There are 10.4 million residential ...

Read More