Toxicology is analyzing biological fluids and tissues for the presence of drugs and poisons and quantifying any substances found.
Roles of a Toxicologist Must determine one of thousands of drugs. To find metabolites of desired chemicals (ex- heroine breaks down into morphine within seconds.)
What aspect of Toxicology is especially useful in forensic science? Being able to analyze pharmaceuticals/ foods in cases where tampering is suspected. For example: Cases where someone has overdosed. Rape/ Murder cases where the victim was drugged. Suicide cases where patients have taken a medicine that have a depression side-effect. Drunk-driving incidents.
Difficulty in determining the substance… The break down and lack of oxygen to cells. The bacteria that multiples in bodies may produce alcohol, changing the results by increasing the apparent blood-alcohol level. Bodily fluids are excreted.
Color Testing Usually the first technique used. When a drug is put in contact with a specific chemical reagent the reagent will change colors. Examples: Marquis test turns purple is the presence of heroine. Scott test turns blue in the presence of cocaine Duquenois-Levine turns purple in the presence of marijuana.
Autopsy During an autopsy tissues, organs, and bodily fluids are analyzed. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is probably the most accurate way to analyze these. CE uses conductive liquid under an electric field to separate substances on their size and charge ratio.
Why US drug manufactures produce enough pharmaceuticals to supply every American with 40 pills a piece. 18,000 out of the annual 40,000 traffic deaths are alcohol related.