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INTRODUCTION TO

TOXICOLOGY
PREPARED BY
SF DIPULA

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
At the end of this lecture students should be
able to:
Define terms
Discuss history of toxicology
Demonstrate understanding of different
poisons in Botswana

DEFINITION OF TERMS
Toxicology

The study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological


agents on living organisms and the ecosystem, including the
prevention and amelioration of such adverse effects. (Society of
Toxicology)

Toxicant (poison)
The specific poisonous substance
Xenobiotic
Man made substance and/or produced by but not normally found in
the body

What is a poison????

All substances are poisons;


there is none that is not a poison.
The right dose
differentiates a poison and a remedy.
Paracelsus (1493-1541)

DOSE

The amount of chemical entering the body


Usually given as mg of chemical/kg of body weight
The dose is dependent upon
The environmental concentration
The properties of the toxicant
The frequency of exposure
The length of exposure
The exposure pathway

Dose Vs Poison

An apparently nontoxic
chemical can be toxic at
high doses. (Too much of
a good thing can be bad).

Highly toxic chemicals


can be life saving when
given in appropriate
doses. (Poisons are not
harmful at a sufficiently
low dose).

TERMS
Toxicity
The adverse effects that a chemical may
produce
Exposure
Contact providing opportunity of obtaining a
poisonous dose

Hazard
The likelihood that toxicity will be
expressed

POISONOUS SUBSTANCES
Produced by plants, animals, or bacteria.
Phytotoxins

PHYTOTOXINS
ZOOTOXINS
BACTERIOTOXINS

TERMS

Overdose
Risk

HISTORY

Toxicology dates to the earliest humans

Poisons played an important role in the history of


mankind. In most cases, poisoning is caused by
people's negative characteristics

They may either be lack of information, ignorance,


carelessness, untidiness, and, at worst, anger that
may lead to cases of deliberate poisoning

HISTORY

50- 400 A.D: Romans used poisons for


executions and assassinations.

The Philosopher, Socrates, was executed using


hemlock for teaching radical ideas to youths

1200 A.D: Spanish rabbi Maimonides writes


first-aid book for poisonings :Poisons and
Their Antidotes

HISTORY

Swiss Physician Paracelsus (1493-1541) credited with


being the father of modern toxicology

Set the basics of pharmacology, toxicology and


therapeutics

Investigated dose - response relationship

'All substances are poisons; there is none which is


not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison
and a remedy

HISTORY

Italian physician Ramazzini (1713): Father of


Occupational Medicine

Outlined health hazards of the dusts, fumes, or gases that


such workers inhaled

His research lead to the current diagnosis: allergen


induced asthma (horse riders & bakers)

Pneumoconiosis: a group of dust-related chronic diseases


(miners, farmers, glass cutters etc)

HISTORY
20th Century
Rachel Carson alarmed public about
dangers of pesticides in the environment

TYPES
Descriptive
Performs toxicity tests used to evaluate the risk that exposure to a
chemical poses to human beings & environment
Mechanistic
Determines how deleterious effects on living organisms
Regulatory
Judges whether or not a drug has a low enough risk to justify making it
available for its intended use
Forensic
Concerned with medicolegal aspects of chemicals
Clinical
Focuses on diseases that are caused by/are uniquely associated with
toxic substances

EPIDEMIOLOGY IN BOTSWANA

Prevalence in Southern Africa: 1 to 7%


In Botswana acute poisoning ranks third among injuries
leading to hospitalization
Common medication overdose was due to pharmaceuticals,
household products & traditional medicines
Poisonings common among under 5s & young adults
Cases reported were accidental(children) & intentional
(young adults)
Female victims more than males (death)
Poisoning by plants and traditional medicines affected more
males than female victims (over 30 yrs)

FACTS ABOUT POISONS

92% of all poisonings happen at home.

The household products implicated are:

cleaning solutions
fuels
medicines, and other materials such as glue and cosmetics.

Certain animals secrete a xenobiotic poison called venom


& other animals harbor infectious bacteria.

Some household plants are poisonous to humans and


animals.

REFERENCES

Gilman. G. A., Hardman. J. G. & Limbird. L. E.


(2005). The Pharmacological Basis of
therapeutics. 10th ed. McGraw Hill: New York

Malangu. N. 2011.Study on Acute poisoning in


three African countries: Botswana, South
Africa and Uganda