How to Study Toxicology

Toxicology is the branch of medical sciences that deals with investigation of the effect of hazardous chemicals on the human and animal tissues. This article discusses briefly this subject from its chemical aspect.


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    Understand the overview of toxicology. Toxicology is a science that deals with the investigation of the effect of the hazardous chemical compounds on the body in humans and animals. The development of toxicology was required for the measurement of the effects of chemicals on humans in particular in the industries to measure the rate of exposition of workers to these chemicals such as gas vapors and dust of certain chemicals. This subject is currently a pure experimental science that is based on data that are obtained from experiments on laboratory animals. There is an astronomical number of chemical compounds that are available partially synthetically and partially naturally. The impetus for the synthesis of new compounds is mainly due to their potential use in the various areas of application.
    • For example, alkaloids are natural products that are present in nature in very small quantities. Some of these steroids have pharmacological effect. Therefore there is a need to prepare these compounds on a large scale for use as medications. For this reason and others, development of chemical synthesis was promoted in an accelerated fashion. This led to the possibility to synthesize many other compounds that have other uses such as industrial uses.
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    Be aware that many industrial chemical compounds are harmful to humans. Their merit is by their use as a useful industrial product, with careful management strategies (which you need to study as part of toxicology).
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    Study green chemistry. Nowadays a new area of chemistry has emerged and which is called green chemistry. This area of chemistry deals with environmentally benign chemical compounds that do not have hazardous effect on the environment and the humans. This area of chemistry was also developed due to the pollution effect which industrial gases have done such as nitrogen and carbon oxides on the atmosphere of the planet.
    • In spite of the development of green chemistry and the attempts to reduce the toxic hazards of chemicals there is still an enormous number of chemicals that have potential for killing humans.
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    Learn why chemical compounds are hazardous. The hazardous effect of all chemical compounds is the direct result of the chemical reactivity that is manifested by the functional groups that it bears on its molecular structure. The bodies of humans and animals are composed of chemicals of various complexity and structure. These compounds enter metabolic reactions on a constant basis during the whole life of the individual. These metabolic pathways in the human body are exceedingly intricate but are also very organized and accurate. Normal chemical reactions in the usual chemical laboratory take a bit of time to take place.
    • In the body, the rate of chemical reactions is unusually high. This is so due to the catalytic effect that enzymes exert to accelerate these reactions. These enzymes are very specific in their function and are also very selective to the type of reaction that they are specialized to.
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    Study the reactions of chemical compounds in the human body. Most chemicals in the body of humans have reactive functional groups that are able to react with a potential chemical compound under certain conditions. These compounds include also foreign chemicals from the industry for example. The reaction of these foreign compounds with the chemicals in the body can interfere with the normal metabolism of that compound. This is basically the process of toxicity. The number of toxic compounds in the body exceeds the number of the beneficial compounds. This is so due to the unusually specialized compounds that the body has in its own metabolic pathways. Foreign compounds can react with important molecules in the body and interfere with its metabolism. This metabolism can be crucial for the proper function of the body cells.
    • An example: the arsenate ion is similar in structure to the phosphate ion that is usually used to generate ATP molecules in the body cells. Therefore, a toxic effect is exerted in which the binding of arsenate instead of the phosphate ion does not lead to the production of the ATP molecule and the whole process would be futile energetically.
    • Another example of the effect of a toxic compound is the effect of transition metal ions on the body cells. Some transition metal ions are used by the body as cofactors in many metabolic pathways. This includes for example the zinc and magnesium ions. Other transition metal ions can be toxic to the body mainly by competing with the physiological metals in the body for their binding to the enzyme active site. This is basically the mechanism of toxic effect of heavy metals on the body cells.
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    Study the effects of poisons. Poisons of the nervous system are another type of toxic compounds that function by blocking ion channels in neurons of the nervous system. Thus, a poison works by blocking the transmission of electric signals between neurons. This can cause paralysis of the affected person.

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