Common Terms

The following list of common terms is just the start of toxicology definitions. There are a number of online glossary resources, including and Toxipedia.

Chain of custody - ensuring evidence is secure and traceable at all times.

Chromatographic techniques - analytical procedure used for separation of compounds or drugs.

Derivitization - process of modifying original compound/drug for enhanced analytical detection.

Drug or toxin concentration - the amount of drug, metabolite or other toxin in a given volume of plasma, urine, other fluid, tissue homogenate, etc. (e.g., number of micrograms, nanograms or picograms per millilitre).

Forensic practitioner - A person, usually police officer, scientist or physician who is engaged in forensic investigations.

Hazard - the biological effects produced by substances (i.e., toxicity). Hazards pose risks only if the exposure is sufficiently high.

Histalogical - pertaining to the minute structure of animal and plant tissues as discernible with the microscope.

Homogenization - process of preparing tissue for analysis by grinding a known amount of tissue in a known amount of water.

Immunoassays - a biochemical test that measures the presence or concentration of a substance in solutions that frequently contain a complex mixture of substances.

Medico-legal death investigation (MDLI) - A medical investigation performed by especially trained forensic medical practitioners, often in conjunction with forensic scientists, to determine the cause and manner of death.

Metabolism - the sum of the processes by which a particular substance is handled in the living body.

Metabolite - a product of metabolism.

Poison - a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism.

Post-mortem redistribution - recognized toxicological phenomenon of an increase in drug concentration after death.

Specimens - Biological samples collected from a living or deceased person that can be analysed for one or more substances relevant to the matter.

Toxic - containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.

Toxicant - a toxic agent.

Toxicity - the biological effect of a substance. In this context, toxicity and hazard are used interchangeably.

Toxicology - a science that deals with poisons and their effect and with the problems involved (as clinical, industrial, or legal).

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