Forensic Toxicology

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Forensic Toxicology




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Presentations text content in Forensic Toxicology

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Forensic Toxicology

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Toxicology

Toxicology

the study of the adverse effects of chemicals or physical agents on living organisms.

(In other words: combination of chemistry and physiology that deals with drugs, poisons, and other toxic substances and how these substances effect living organisms.)

Types:

Environmental

air, water, soil

Consumer

foods, cosmetics, drugs

Medical, clinical, forensic

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Toxicologists

What do they do?Detect and identify the presence of drugs and poisons in body fluids, tissues, and organs. Where do they work?Crime LabsME OfficesHospital labs & Health FacilitiesIdentify drug overdosesMonitor intake of drugs

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Mathieu Orfilia- Father of Toxicology

The father of toxicology was Mathieu Orfilia in the early 1800’s .His work mainly centered around arsenic.It was relatively easy to get because it was the rat poison of the day and was the favorite murder weapon among poor people.

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Intoxicant vs. Poison

Poison

- requires a relatively small amount to be fatalEx. Cyanide

Intoxicant – need a relatively large amount in order to be lethalEx. Alcohol

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Forensic Toxicology can be found in…

Postmortem—medical examiner or coronerCriminal—motor vehicle accidents (MVA)Workplace—drug testingSports—human and animalsEnvironment—industrial, catastrophic, terrorism.

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Toxicology plays a major part in forensics at three levels

A criminalist may be asked to see if a person’s behavior has been influenced by a drug

A forensic team may examine evidence to see whether a suspect has been manufacturing illicit compounds

Forensic experts will look for evidence that a toxic substance has killed a person

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Toxic Substances may…

Be the cause of deathContribute to deathCause impairmentExplain Behavior

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Looking for Poisons

Most poisons don’t visibly change the body. The medical examiner won’t notice most cases until fluids and tissue sample are examined in the lab

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Biotransformation

When chemicals enter the body, the body reacts by breaking it down in order to eliminate it For example… if you inject something like heroin, the body will break it down into the morphine originally used to produce it. Looking for heroin is futile but if you find morphine, you have found signs of heroinWe call these products metabolites

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What are the clues?

Ingested

toxins show up in the

stomach, intestines, or liver

Inhaled

gases are concentrated in the

lungs

Toxins that are ingested

i

ntramuscularly

concentrate themselves around the injection site

Drugs that re given

intravenously

are directly absorbed into the blood bypassing the stomach and liver. Concentrations are found throughout the body, low in the stomach and liver, high in the blood stream

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Best Tissues to Sample for Poisons

BloodMost UsefulShows chemical and metabolitesBlood levels show what was going on in the body at TODUrineEasy to obtainHigh concentrationsKidneys are along elimination routeStomach ContentsDigestion stops at the moment of death

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Best Tissues to Sample for Poisons

LiverToxin “sponge” of your bodyCan reflect levels of toxins that blood may not revealVitreous Humor (eyeball fluid)Slow to decayRetain toxins longer than most other organsHairChemicals take abut 5 days to show in the core of a hair shaftInsectstoxins accumulate in the bodies of insects that feed off of decomposed bodies

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Determining the Manner and Cause of Death

Natural

- ex. heart attack

Accidental

-

ex. Children putting things in their mouths, misreading labels, mixing different chemicals

Suicidal-

ex. CO poisoning, drug overdose

Homicidal-

ex. Purposeful tampering, weapons

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Most Abused Drug: Alcohol

Blood-alcohol levels are directly proportional to the degree of intoxication

Expressed in grams of alcohol/100 mL of blood)

Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and small intestines

Rate of absorption

Total time taken to consume

Alcoholic content

Amount consumed

Body weight

Stomach contents

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How do we get it out of our bodies?

Oxidation

Takes Place in the liver

Excretion

Breath

Urine

Perspiration

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How do we test for it?

Breathalyzer

Field Sobriety

Pupil Dilation

Walk and Turn (heel to toe)

One leg standing and counting

Finger to Nose “thing”

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Legal Limit

Maximum Blood Alcohol Level is 0.08% for drivers age 21 and up

Maximum Blood Alcohol Level is

0.02% if the driver in under 21


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