Who is a Toxicologist?
All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous and that is determined by a toxicologist ~ Anonymous
There are several kinds of substances present around us, surrounding the environment of the earth. Some are of immense use and some are toxic in nature. We all consume different amounts of packaged food commodities, they all come with descriptions of several substances present in the commodity. Do you wonder who checks for all of this? Who makes sure that the products we are using or consuming are safe for us? The answer is a toxicologist. The job of a toxicologist is to make sure that all the toxins that humans come in contact with by consuming any product or using it are safe from any sort of harmful effects. If this is something that interests you, if you want to become someone who can research about several toxins around us then you can become a toxicologist.
Toxicologists use analytical and scientific techniques to identify toxins such as chemicals, biological substances, and radiation, and to assess the potential risks and harmful effects posed by them. From locating toxic materials in the products we use in our everyday life to toxicologists work round the clock to ensure that such products are safe for human consumption. Sometimes toxicologists also work with the police to help find evidence.
Toxicologist in a Nutshell
A toxicologist investigates toxic materials or substances and how they can affect the environment of the earth as well as the living organisms. The majority of toxicologists’ work is laboratory-based. The individual who is pursuing toxicology as a career is required to monitor various toxic materials and how they impact humans and the natural world. Toxicologist also carries out a number of laboratory as well as field studies in order to understand more clearly the effects of toxic materials.
Quick Facts for Toxicologist
Average Salary in India
An individual from any section or gender can become a toxicologist. It doesn’t matter which gender he/she belongs to when it comes to becoming a toxicologist. Being a toxicologist is one of the most exciting and non-conventional professions where an individual’s gender is insignificant.
Any special needs
When it comes to a toxicologist’s job it is better to be physically fit for a better and efficient way of working. However, there is no hard and fast rule that it is compulsory to be physically fit. As long as the disability doesn’t come in the way of one’s work they are good to go for this field.
Table of Contents for Toxicologist
What is the role of Toxicologist?
A toxicologist is a professional whose primary job is to study various toxic materials such as radioactive material or biotoxins or even chemical compounds in order to determine the risks they pose to the natural environment and humans. A toxicologist often carries out various controlled experiments to find out how potent a particular toxic is. They often work as forensic toxicologists as well to help authorities solve crimes.
A toxicologist’s job begins with collection. Toxicologists gather and prepare samples of harmful substances for testing and analysis. A toxicologist may dissect dead animals and examine organs for signs of toxic materials. Plus, they take tissue and blood samples from living animals for microscopic investigation. To gather details on toxins’ effects on living tissues, toxicologists apply cosmetics or other substances to skin and report inflammation, irritation or other abnormal responses.
To understand how toxins affect people and animals, toxicologists conduct research. They design studies on toxicological properties and perform laboratory analysis on samples to observe cellular, biochemical and molecular responses to toxins. Once they’ve identified harmful compounds, toxicologists research treatments for exposure. To help protect public health, toxicologists also determine safe levels of contact. Research specialties include cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive and developmental toxicology, neurotoxins, inhaled toxins and immunotoxicology.
Toxicologist designs, plans, and experiments to test the effect of toxins. He or she carries out many trials to investigate the toxic materials and their effect on the environment and living beings. A toxicologist is responsible for identifying the characteristics of toxins and evaluating their properties. A toxicologist uses scientific equipment and analytical techniques to assess the effects of toxins. A toxicologist spends his or her most of the time experimenting in the laboratory. A toxicologist has to carry out many trials in order to investigate the various toxins and their different properties.
A toxicologist carries out an assessment of various toxic materials to interpret its long term impact on animals, humans, and other living beings. A toxicologist interprets data after assessing and identifying toxins to reach conclusions and prepare reports for documentation. A toxicologist is responsible for evaluating the impact of the medicines and radiation on the environment and its living beings such as animals, and humans. A toxicologist carries out different assessments to analyse about the long term impact of the toxic substances on all living beings.
There are several cases where a victim (living or dead) was taking the dosage of drugs prescribed by his or her doctor. The long term intake of such drugs results in the victim’s death. Similarly, criminals use several toxic drugs or poison to murder the victim. In such cases, a forensic toxicologist carries out the investigation and provides the evidence in the documented reports in court proceedings. In certain cases, a forensic toxicologist has to appear in court proceedings to provide evidence in a documented report.
A toxicologist is responsible for advising people on the safe handling of toxic substances. He or she also advises on methods of minimizing the effects of toxic substances. He or she prescribes the methods of safe use of toxins or drugs that could turn harmful for patients for long term intake of dosage. A toxicologist treats the patients who have come in direct contact with toxic substances. He or she prescribes the methods to his or her family members to neutralize the effect of the toxin on time.
Types of a Toxicologist
Analytical toxicology: It is the detection, identification, and measurement of foreign compounds (xenobiotics) in biological and other specimens. Analytical toxicology can assist in the diagnosis, management, prognosis, and prevention of poisoning. Using a number of different techniques they analyze complex patient samples, such as body fluids. They evaluate the diagnostic and therapeutic use of investigations and their results. They implement new tests or change existing tests to allow new medicines or other substances to be added.
Applied toxicology: It focuses on the actual interaction of the toxicant or its metabolites on cellular structures. Applied toxicology is concerned with the use of chemicals outside the laboratory (the real world). Applied toxicologists attempt to determine the physiologic effect or safety of an administered product.
Clinical toxicology: This discipline within toxicology concerned with the toxic effect of agents whose intent is to treat, ameliorate, modify, or prevent disease states, or the effect of drugs which, at one time, were intended to be used as such. Many clinical toxicologists operate in hospitals and have strong connections to the departments of clinical pharmacology at the institution. Clinical toxicologists are able to offer guidance about how to either unintentionally or intentionally diagnose patients who have been contaminated with a drug or some other substance.
Veterinary toxicology: Veterinary toxicology is the specialty of veterinary medicine dealing with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of effects of natural and man-made chemicals, forms of energy, and gasses in the animal kingdom.
Forensic toxicology: It 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. To classify any medications or contaminants found in the body, forensic toxicologists conduct analytical testing on body fluids and tissue samples. A forensic toxicologist can detect and classify any chemicals in the body that would have initially caused, such as alcohol, as part of a group investigating a crime.
Environment toxicology: Environmental toxicology is a multidisciplinary field of science concerned with the study of the harmful effects of various chemical, biological and physical agents on living organisms. Environmental toxicology is the study of the effects of both organic and inorganic substances on the environment. Environmental Toxicology is the study of the consequences on health and ecosystem by man-made and natural compounds. This involves analyzing the impact of chemical compounds on species in the environment and in the ecosystems in which they belong to.
Industrial toxicology: Industrial toxicology is the study of the harmful effects on humans by chemicals used in the workplace, the products produced by companies, and the wastes created in manufacturing. Industrial toxicology is a branch of the larger toxicology science that addresses the harmful impact of all types of chemical compounds, physical agents, and processes, like drugs. Toxicology was initially defined as the theory of poisons, an emphasis that has distinguished this discipline from its initial conception.
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What is the workplace/work environment of Toxicologist like?
The work isn’t as stressful as other science-based jobs. However, this really depends on what field of toxicology one is working in. Forensics, for instance, is regarded to be a very stressful industry, due to the subject matter of the possible jobs here. However, most toxicology jobs are research-based, and toxicologists tend to work on specific projects one at a time. While you will mostly be based in a lab, there is the possibility of occasional travel, especially when the research calls for it.
Does Toxicologist require travelling?
Most toxicologists are based in offices or labs, with regular nine hours shifts. But if an individual works as an occupational toxicologist, they will be required to travel to different workplaces to carry out risk assessments.
The job of a toxicologist is full-time in nature. A full-time academic researcher must put in at least 50 to 60 hours a week to stay competitive. The job of a toxicologist is mostly nine- five one in nature. They might work extra hours depending on the requirement. They are supposed to work from Monday to Friday. Weekends are supposed to be off.
The nature of employment when it comes to a toxicologist is permanent in nature.
Most forensic toxicologists work in labs run by law enforcement agencies, medical examiners or private drug testing facilities. They often must sit or stand for long periods of time. The tests they perform require very fine motor skills and a dogged commitment to following rigorous scientific protocols.
Presence in Geographical Area
Rural, Semi-urban, Urban
A dentist can work in an urban, semi-urban as well as rural settings. It depends on the requirement.
Time pressure is considered moderate in the case of toxicologists. Most toxicologists put in 50 to 60 hours a week. Toxicologists working in the medical profession usually are not exposed to unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Working overtime is quite common for toxicologists. They are required to stay for long hours and finish daily assessments which involve paperwork also. Apart from this, they might be required to work on weekends if the situation demands.
Weekly Hours of Work
Min 50 Hours
Most toxicologists put in 50 to 60 hours a week. Toxicologists working in the medical profession usually are not exposed to unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
How to become a Toxicologist?
What are the skills and qualities required to become a/an Toxicologist?
A toxicologist should master the following 10 core skills to fulfill her job properly.
Sense of Urgency: Urgency is the speed that drives businesses fast in order to keep them from disconnecting from what they are aiming to achieve but pursue it with a sense of urgency. A Toxicologist needs to create a sense of urgency in the business by helping the staff see the need for change by taking advantage of the presented opportunities or by dealing with any issue that is holding them back.
Giving Feedback: Giving Feedback is one of the most powerful tools to develop employees and improve performance through honest feedback of the work done best and areas that need improvement. A Toxicologist should be skilled in giving out both praise and criticism in a wise way to occasionally show workers where they need to improve and providing them with an observer's insight into the progress of their performance.
Interpersonal Management: Cooperation is the process of working with groups or teams for a common mutual benefit as opposed to working in competition or for selfish ambition. A Toxicologist should learn the art of creating a mutually beneficial exchange among the employees that dwells much on cooperation for the same mutual benefit with adequate resources for all to use rather than creating a spirit of competition.
Stress Tolerance: Handling Stress is the skill to balance the requirements of the job and your abilities or available resources in performing it. A Toxicologist needs to creatively learn how to schedule work according to the abilities of different individuals to ensure a balance that will not put an unsustainable level of pressure on the employees and cause them to accumulate work-related stress.
Practical Thinking: Practical Thinking is the skill to think creatively about projects or work that requires your full attention to be completed and to bring great results. A Toxicologist must ensure the decisions he makes are well sought after using professional characteristics for employees with high-level responsibilities to feel included and to allow growth for everyone in a constantly changing world that requires creativity.
Result Oriented: Results Orientation is knowing and focusing on outstanding results and working hard to achieve them because they are significant. A Toxicologist must understand and make it clear to the employees how important results are and the competitive and results-driven market that the company is facing while encouraging them to remain focused on the results that every project bears without fail.
Self-Discipline: Self-Discipline and Sense of Duty is an active effort that helps in developing set ways for your thoughts, actions, and habits empowering you to stick to your decisions. A Toxicologist needs to learn the secret of fostering the development of self-discipline amongst the employees by clearly defining the expectations, staying in sync with the work-related events and propagating results yielding ideas that employees suggest.
Research Skills: Research is the ability to stay updated on the latest trends in different fields as per your concern or the concern of your company or business. A Toxicologist ought to stay up to date on the latest trends in hiring, leading, retention, technology and much more by using the newest research methods that allow him to make better decisions and improve productivity.
Which certifications and internships can be helpful in becoming Toxicologist?
The majority of training in this field is done on-the-job. Most forensic toxicologists begin working with more experienced professionals in local, state, and central government crime labs and advance their careers through years of hands-on experience. Another training option is to take part in an internship program. Many levels are available, ranging from high school introductory programs through graduate school-level work. Local and state law enforcement agencies offer more of these programs than private consulting firms do. Few internship programs include actual coursework. Some of the subject matter emphasized in training includes:
Lab procedure and practice overviews
Ante-mortem and post-mortem toxicology screenings
Controlled substance analysis
Blood and tissue sample processing and analysis
Examining new testing methods
Career Path Progression for Toxicologist
Industrial toxicologist: Industrial toxicology is a specific area of environmental toxicology that deals with the work environment and constitutes a significant part of industrial hygiene. The industrial toxicologist plays a crucial role in developing a wide range of effective and safe products including petrochemicals, medicines, pesticides, cosmetics, food and drink, and household products. Often, industrial toxicologists work closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that a company’s products and production processes conform to local, national, and international regulations. Pharmaceutical toxicologists determine the efficiency, mechanism of actions, and the potential adverse health effects of the active pharmaceutical ingredients being produced.
Clinical toxicologists: They work in the medical field. A clinical toxicologist studies the harmful effects of chemicals, drugs, pesticides, and other substances on humans through the clinical diagnosis of symptoms and the detection and diagnosis of biological poisoning. Clinical toxicologists may work in hospitals or pharmaceutical companies. A clinical toxicologist, might work on research-based therapeutic studies or support a medical team during poison or drug overdose emergencies.
Forensic toxicologists: He/she investigates causes of death and studies crime scenes with law enforcement personnel. A forensic toxicologist specialises in the study of alcohol, legal and illicit drugs and poisons, including their chemical composition, preparations, and identifications. They find opportunities with private forensic laboratories, law enforcement agencies, and in-hospital departments of forensic medicine.
Regulatory toxicologist: He/she has the primary role of ensuring public health and safety from the use of chemicals, drugs, and pesticides, by identifying potential health risks posed by exposure to such substances. Regulatory toxicologists work for pharmaceutical companies and government facilities to research new drugs and chemicals. Toxicologists determine whether a new product is safe for public consumption and use.
Academic toxicologists: They work at non-profit organizations and universities. These toxicologists concentrate on research projects and teach toxicology to students.
Environmental toxicologists: Also referred to as eco-toxicologists study the effects of chemicals on the environment. Environmental toxicologists carry out their research on the field and in laboratories to learn how pollution affects ecosystems, air and water quality, species survival, and public health. Environmental toxicologists continually monitor and measure the level of toxins in the environment. They play an important role in safeguarding public health.
Toxicologist Jobs and Salaries
- Average Salary 32000
- Junior Level Salary 25000
- Senior Level Salary 80000
Forensic toxicologists examine body fluids, blood and tissue samples in DNA tests. They analyze death factors, and survey forensic evidence with law enforcement employees.
Forensic toxicologists' salary is centered on the expertise and experience in this field. Earnings at the entry-level will be more than Rs. three lakhs per year, which will gradually touch more than nine lakhs per year at the senior level.
- Average Salary 25000
- Junior Level Salary 15000
- Senior Level Salary 60000
Clinical toxicologists offer guidelines about how to diagnose patients who have either unintentionally or deliberately been contaminated with drugs or other products. Clinical toxicologists could be working on clinical studies based on observations or assisting a team of doctors in emergencies with poison or misuse of drugs.
Salary is primarily focused on career prospects, or relies in particular on experience and time spent on the field. In such a profession salary does not depend solely on the degree but on the experience. The entry level pay could be up to three lakhs per year and eventually, depending on the organisation and the skill of the clinical toxicologist, it could be about seven lakhs per annum.
What is the job outlook for Toxicologist?
According to statistics, the employment of medical scientists, such as toxicologists, was projected to grow faster than average from 2018-2028. Toxicologists may also be classified as biochemists; the expected growth rate for biochemists, along with biophysicists, was faster than average from 2018-2028. As people become more health-conscious, there is a greater need for those who study toxins. At present, organisations in India are unable to meet the demand because most toxicologists are attracted by lucrative positions and better research facilities in other countries. There are various fields of toxicology and hence there is potential to grow within toxicology in different ways. Many industries employ toxicologists to assist in evaluating the safety of their products.
Toxicologists work as consultants in companies that deal with food, chemical, or cosmetic products. Numerous career avenues for toxicologists exist in chemical, food, pharmaceutical, and environment-related industries; in teaching and research, and in government organisations dealing with regulation of chemical usage. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are the largest employers of toxicologists. Pharmacovigilance (monitoring and preventing harmful effects of medicines), which is gaining prominence in India, is expected to absorb more toxicologists. Toxicologists can also work for epidemiological surveys done by health authorities. A Toxicologist's responsibilities will depend on the institution they work for. Depending on their area of work, toxicologists can be divided into eight distinct groups: industrial, pharmaceutical, academic, clinical, forensic, regulatory, occupational, eco-toxicology.
Frequently Asked Questions for Toxicologist
Que. Is a toxicologist a doctor?Ans.
Medical toxicology is officially recognized as a medical subspecialty by the Board of Medical Specialties. Its practitioners are physicians, whose primary specialization is generally in emergency medicine, occupational medicine, or pediatrics.
Que. What do toxicologists study?Ans.
Toxicologists study the safety and biological effects of drugs, chemicals, agents, and other substances on living organisms. They develop methods to determine harmful effects, the dosages that cause those effects, and safe exposure limits.
Que. Why do toxicologists take weeks?Ans.
The confirmatory tests can take days or weeks if they have to be repeated. To confirm that a person had a type of drug in his or her body, the drug has to be separated from the blood or tissue.
Que. What is post mortem toxicology?Ans.
Postmortem toxicology is the study of the presence, distribution, and quantification of a xenobiotic after death. This information is used to account for the physiologic effects of a xenobiotic at the time of death through its quantification and distribution in the body at the time of autopsy.
Que. What is the importance of toxicology?Ans.
An important role of toxicology is to identify the important effect or sets of effects in order to prevent irreversible or debilitating disease. One important part of this task is the identification of the organ first or most affected by a toxic agent; this organ is defined as the “target organ”.
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