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© 2008 Society of Toxicology Introduction to Toxicology
© 2008 Society of Toxicology What is Toxicology? Toxicology helps create a safer world Definition: The study of the negative effects of chemical and physical agents on living organisms Modern toxicology uses chemicals as tools to understand molecular/cellular biology
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Toxicology Affects Us Everyday www.gotmercury.org/ California Wants to Serve a Warning With Fries (NY Times, Sept 21, 2005) Fish-mercury risk underestimated (CNN.com, Apr 12, 2001) Ephedra Ban: What Took So Long? (CBSNews.com, Dec 30, 2003)
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Toxicology Provides Insight to Protect Health Reduction of Blood Lead Levels provides economic gains –Children in late 1990s had IQs 2.2–4.7 higher than they would have if they had the same blood level as children in the late 1970s –Estimated about 2% increase in worker productivity –Economic benefit for each year’s cohort $110–319 billion EHP 110(6):563-569
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Toxicology Provides Insight Thimersol and Vaccines – Two 2004 UK studies found no evidence that thimersol in vaccines caused neurodevelopmental or psychological problems, nor that early exposure is harmful – Cost of discounting the scientific evidence about thimersol Failure to vaccinate children puts them at risk, and put others at risk Attempts to chelate thimersol in autistic children can damage their health, needless risk Expense for litigation for groups seeking monetary awards for punitive damages Courts put a scientific issue in the hands of jurors where emotions may determine awards Further distrust of science builds Politicians make policy for political gain New England Journal of Medicine 357:1278-1279
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Toxicology Provides Insight Does Mercury Matter? –Fish has health benefits (high protein, low fat, omega-3 fatty acids) –Fish contain some mercury –EPA reference dose: 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day 12 oz of fish per week Fetuses and young children face the most risk Risk is manageable by choosing type and amount of fish Phthalates and Consumer Products –Chemicals used in hundreds of products to provide consumer benefits CDC and FDA have not found evidence of health effects as a consequence of phthalates
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Nov. 5, 2004 © AP Images/Sergei Supinksy July 3, 2004 © AP Images/Anatoly Medzyk Viktor Yushchenko: poisoned by Dioxin
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Toxicology is arguably the oldest scientific discipline, as the earliest humans had to recognize which plants were safe to eat. Humans are exposed to chemicals both deliberately and inadvertently. Most exposure of humans to chemicals is via naturally occurring compounds consumed in the diet from food plants.
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Chemicals are natural, biological, or synthetic in origin – Natural (food, metals, minerals) – Biological (toxins from bacteria) – Synthetic—manufactured through chemical processes Approximately 100,000 chemicals are currently in use worldwide. 500 new formulations enter the marketplace annually.
© 2008 Society of Toxicology Modern mechanism-based toxicology developed from increased public awareness of environmental toxicology (DDT) (1907-1964) Silent Spring
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