Toxicology


Perchlorate in Drinking Water

Perchlorate is an inorganic ion containing one chlorine atom bound to four oxygen atoms in a tetrahedral configuration. Perchlorate does not exist on its own; it must be bound to other chemicals, such as ammonia, magnesium, and potassium. Perchlorate can form naturally in the air and is found at low levels in rain or snow. It is found naturally at high levels in certain rock and mineral deposits across the world, and is especially prevalent in deserts. Perchlorate is also manufactured for use as an oxidizer in solid fuels to power rockets, missiles, and fireworks. Health ...

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Threshold of Toxicological Concern

Level of Exposure
  Estimating Potential for Harm:  The Threshold of Toxicological Concern  Background Whether it’s a man-made or a naturally occurring chemical, we don’t always have a lot of data on its potential toxicity.  Some of these chemicals can occur at very low levels in nature or in products.  But given our ever-increasing ability to measure very low amounts of chemical exposure we have a need to be able to make judgements about potential for harm and prioritizing which chemicals need further toxicity studies.  So how does a toxicologist go about prioritiz...

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Methanol Toxicity

Methanol, sometimes called wood alcohol, is the simplest of the class of chemicals chemists call alcohols.  Ethanol, the spirit many enjoy in beer, wine, and cocktails, is closely related.  Both can be made naturally when yeast ferment the natural chemicals in grains and fruits.  And like all chemicals, both can be toxic when you are exposed to too much.  But, when you consume methanol, the way your body metabolizes it makes it much more toxic than ethanol.  Methanol poisonings were common during the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s and 30’s because methanol was ...

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Basics of Dose-Response

Introduction: You have just moved into your dream house and discover a secret room which you hadn’t noticed before and which escaped the notice of your home inspection. Once you gain access, you discover numerous amber colored bottles with the traditional skull and crossbones logo emblazoned upon the bottles. You’re rightfully concerned.  Is your house now contaminated and are you at risk to live there?  This Tox Topic was developed to help you understand how to think about potential exposure to chemicals.  By understanding these key concepts, you’ll be better ...

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Human Health Risk Assessment

The woman in this photo may not know she risks harming her unborn baby's health by smoking while pregnant. Or she understands that, but she is taking that risk because she is addicted to smoking cigarettes.  Risk assessments are applied to many things we encounter in our daily lives including life-saving drugs, food additives, cosmetics, household cleaning products, pesticide residues in foods, and countless other environmental agents.   This Tox Topic briefly explains some basics of human health risk assessment.   TEF’s “Is It Safe? Evaluating Chemical Risk” ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Watch Our Newest Featured Video “Toxicity Today”

In “Toxicity Today” viewers will enjoy a comic taste of the “sometimes not poisonous and sometimes very poisonous” Botox® and the not always as safe as you think overconsumption of water – brought to you by the Toxicology Education Foundation (toxedfoundation.org), a resource for information about chemicals in our world and tips for how we can evaluate health risks while reaping the benefits of medicines and other chemicals. To learn more about Botulinum Toxin and Botox®, Water Intoxication (dilutional hyponatremia), Basics of Dose and Exposure, and Hazard ...

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Botulinum Toxin and Botox®

Where does Botox® come from? The neurotoxins produced by the bacterium clostridium botulinum1, categorized as types A through E, are the most potent acute toxins known (more toxic than snake or spider venom) and are the cause of the paralytic disease botulism.  C. botulinum, first isolated in 1895, is most often associated with the consumption of contaminated food.  However, it was not until 1946 that botulinum toxins were isolated and purified.  Botulinum toxins, if prepared as an aerosol, have the potential to be potent biological weapons.  One gram of an ...

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Water Intoxication (dilutional hyponatremia)

We all know that drinking enough water is essential for good health.  But ingesting too much water too fast can be harmful and even deadly.  Really!  Excessive water disturbs your electrolytes, and importantly reduces your blood levels of sodium (the fancy word for this is dilutional hyponatremia).   Mental confusion, drowsiness, and seizures are associated with this as water moves into the brain cells.  Severe water intoxication can lead to brain edema, swelling, and death, and occurs most often when excessive amounts are ingested over a relatively short period of ...

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