Relevance of Toxicology to Public Health

What Is Toxicology?

Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical, or biological agents on living organisms and the ecosystem, including the prevention and amelioration of such adverse effects.

Toxicology is an applied science with many areas of specialization. Toxicology involves integration of information from many different areas of expertise. Most toxicologists work to assess and understand how chemicals affect living systems, and their work involves:

Developing mechanistic understanding of effects

Ensuring safer chemical products

Developing safer drugs and medicines

Determining risks from chemical exposures

Developing treatments for chemical exposures

Ensuring a safe food and water supply

SOT Resources about Toxicology and Its Connection to Other Sciences

To encourage the exchange of information and expertise across the world, the Society has established several programs that are designed to bring toxicologists from diverse backgrounds together.

Areas of Toxicological Research

Mechanistic Toxicology

Focuses on how chemicals produce adverse effects and how biological systems protect themselves against adverse effects.

Descriptive Toxicology

Toxicity testing which assesses the concentration-dependent hazard a chemical may present to human, animal, or environmental health. Toxicity testing often looks at a broad spectrum of responses to determine toxicity, including functional effects, such as immunological responses; growth inhibition; reproductive impairment; increase in cancer incidence; and mortality.

Regulatory Toxicology

Involved in setting rules and assuring compliance for product registration and allowable concentrations in food or environmental media. Toxicity evidence is the basis, but often rules are modified by political and legal considerations, as well a technical feasibility.

Risk Assessment

The mathematical modeling process that yields estimates for safe or allowable chemical concentrations and involves hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure characterization, identify unique effects of chemical mixtures, risk characterization, and uncertainty characterization.

Translational and Clinical Toxicology

The application of biomedical research and drug development to efficiently use a promising drug in the right patient circumstances and assess its efficacy in the human using appropriate indicators such as biomarkers.

About the Society of Toxicology (SOT)

Founded in 1961, SOT is a professional and scholarly organization of scientists from academic institutions, government, and industry representing the great variety of scientists who practice toxicology in the United States and abroad.

The Society’s mission is to create a safer and healthier world by advancing the science and increasing the impact of toxicology.

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