Forensic toxicology – a toxicological investigation

Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of drugs and chemicals on biological systems. Forensic toxicology is the use of toxicology and disciplines such as analytical chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical chemistry to aid medical or legal investigation of death, poisoning, and drug use. It is defined as the determination of drug use, poisoning, or exposure to toxic substances as part of a legal investigation. It is a multidisciplinary field involving the detection and interpretation of the presence of drugs and other potentially toxic compounds in bodily tissues and fluids. These investigations begin with the fundamental and critical requirement of the acquisition of an appropriate specimen.

Forensic toxicology is an extensive science that integrates principles and practices about toxicology and legal aspects, which occur in conjunction with medicolegal instances as with homicide, suicide, road traffic, and other types of accident and/or disasters.

The primary concern for forensic toxicology is not the legal outcome of the toxicological investigation or the technology utilized, but rather the obtainment and interpretation of results. The discipline continues to flourish as a result of the human fascination with poisons, their effects on living organisms, detection in human remains, and the role of toxicology in judicial proceedings. Toxicological analysis can be done on various kinds of samples. Postmortem toxicology, forensic drug testing, and human performance toxicology are the three major subdivisions of the discipline at the present time.

Forensic toxicologists perform scientific tests on bodily fluids and tissue samples to identify any drugs or chemicals present in the body. A forensic toxicologist must consider the context of an investigation, in particular, any physical symptoms recorded, and any evidence collected at a crime scene that may narrow the search, such as pill bottles, powders, trace residue, and any available chemicals. The forensic toxicologists must be familiar with a wide range of chemical substances and utilize knowledge from other basic science disciplines and the cooperation of other professionals to answer questions related to deaths, sicknesses, or any areas where poison or drug is suspected.

Determining the substance ingested is often complicated by the body’s natural processes, as it is rare for a chemical to remain in its original form once in the body. Postmortem forensic toxicology involves analyzing body fluids and organs from death cases and interpreting that information. Forensic toxicology concerns the analysis of biological specimens for the presence and, often, the concentration of drugs and poisons. Nowadays, the practitioners of forensic toxicology science have to deal with three chief sections, namely: postmortem, drug testing, and human performance forensic toxicology.