All Toxicology

Medical doctors are extensively trained in anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, pharmacology, and about a dozen other “ologies”. Even with the amount they’re supposed to know about each of these, most of them really only scratch the surface. Every one of those fields is a huge field of study, requiring specialists to understand even a part of it.​Toxicology is the study of the interactions between chemicals and organisms, especially humans. Harmful effects are given particular importance. How much of a contaminant – pesticides in our food, solvents gradually released by building materials, industrial and agricultural runoff in our drinking water – can we consume before it becomes dangerous? What symptoms can be caused by excessive levels? Can two individually benign substances interact in some way to cause disease?​The tools of the toxicologist’s trade include molecular biology, genetics, analytical chemistry, and bioinformatics. They aim to understand biochemical and cellular processes at a fundamental level in order to explain how contaminants and medications affect us. They may also design clinical trials to test these effects without harming the subjects, or play a role in drafting regulations protecting people and the environment from excessively harmful pollution.​Many toxicologists perform research on the safety of products such as agricultural chemicals, cosmetics, and food additives. They also play a major role in pharmaceutical companies, determining safe and effective doses as well as contraindications for new drugs. The Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, plus the various industries regulated by these, are major employers. Other career paths include academia, environmental risk assessment, healthcare, and forensic toxicology.