Toxicology in the Forensic Lab

Services provided by the Toxicology Section of a forensic science laboratory include:

  • analyzing biological fluids and tissues for the presence of drugs and poisons and quantifying any substances found;
  • interpreting the pharmacological effects of a drug or a combination of drugs on an individual at various concentrations; e.g. whether sub-therapeutic, therapeutic, toxic or lethal;
  • analyzing known substances, pharmaceuticals or food in cases where tampering is suspected.

A toxicologist analyzes bodily fluids and tissues and quantifies drugs and poisons within those samples, and also interprets the effects of these chemicals on the body. The types of cases that a toxicologist may become involved in are homicide, sexual assault, impaired driving (by drugs), sudden unexplained death, drug overdose, fatal vehicle accident, suspicious powders, food tampering, and animal poisoning. The most common testing is for drugs. Legal drugs may be prescription or "over the counter drugs" (e.g. aspirin). Illegal drugs are divided into seven groups and are identified by how they act on the body. These drugs are Central Nervous System Depressants, Inhalants, Phencyclidine, Cannabis, CNS Stimulants, Hallucinogens and Narcotic Analgesics.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Carleton University, Musée de la civilisation, Musée de la Police de Montréal de l'île Bizard, Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale de Montréal, Vancouver Police Centennial Museum, Vancouver Police Department

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