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Relevance of Toxicology to Public Health

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
  • Forensics

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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Leadership and Notable Members

Areas of Toxicological Research

While toxicologists work in many subspecialties and there are many specialized areas of toxicology, there are few major areas of focus in toxicology.

GSSEP Awards

Mechanistic Toxicology

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

ToxScholar Outreach Grants

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.

Supplemental Training for Education Program

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.

Supplemental Training for Education Program

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.

Supplemental Training for Education Program

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.