Toxicology is a field in the healthcare sector which serves many purposes. For example, it provides information on toxins by studying their effects on living organisms, analyzes the DNA in crime scenes, and allows pharmaceuticals to safely introduce new medicines into the market.
This research-oriented field will grow by at least 10% in the next decade. Hence, as a career choice, toxicology is a pretty good option. But, like any decision, before you plunge headfirst into the field of toxicology, you should know what the job expects from you. Therefore, to help you out, let’s explore some of the responsibilities of working as a toxicologist:
1. Investigative Research
The research toxicologists carry out is around studying chemical impacts. You will analyze the cellular reactions produced by living organisms when exposed to harsh chemicals which may be naturally or artificially present in the environment. This can include learning the impact of Alcohol on an aging body or the repercussions of working with chemical fumes.
Since your job involves a high level of research, learning about research methods will help you get the skills you need to do your job. In addition, once you know how to progress with the investigative work, you will have no trouble connecting a proposed hypothesis to a probable cause—for instance, kidney failures due to consuming lead-laced water.
2. Collecting And Studying Samples
Your job requires collecting and preparing samples to go under the microscope. This is a delicate process requiring high expertise to extract the cells, tissue, and thin layer of DNA from a plant or an animal. In addition, dehydrating the sample, adding liquid dyes, and making sure the glass slide doesn’t crack under pressure is no less than art. So if you’ve ever wondered “what is toxicology?” it is a mixture of scientific and analytical skills coming together to give you an accurate scientific finding.
As a toxicologist, you may need to collect various toxin samples for different purposes and study them to understand their effects. This may involve connecting your microscope to a data logger and analyzing the data, such as how body cells react to different dosages of chemicals like a new medicine introduced into the body.
3. Generating Data Reports
The reports you generate, which discuss health hazards, the consequences of chemical intervention, and common toxic elements found in the environment, are pivotal for the healthcare sector. Hospitals are better equipped when they know what ailment, substance, and disease they’re dealing with and its probable causes. This also extends to the public health sector, whose work is deeply ingrained in the population and the environment.
For instance, you wrote a report on the long-term hazards of radioactive factories on workers. This will help OSHA develop more safety regulations or shut down operations in such toxic environments.
4. Working With The Law
A branch within toxicology called forensics makes you an asset to the legal community. When discussing criminal cases, the legal system may need your expertise. For example, you may be summoned to court or the police station to determine the cause of death or the chemicals used in the crime. In the case of body fluids, you may also need to run tests to deduce the DNA of the criminal or the victim.
Your work involves investigating the probable cause of death or injury like using excessive Alcohol, using prescription pills, exposure to metals and heavy gases. Therefore you may need to run blood tests or collect a urine sample to analyze the substances used. In addition, you may use a mass spectrometer and gas chromatography for heavy metals and gases to determine the number of harmful substances present in the victim’s environment. When you have your findings, the next stage is to present them in court and appear as a forensic expert in the case.
5. Demonstrating Safe Handling Of Toxic Substances
As a toxicologist, you are in an excellent position to gauge the harmful effects of different substances. You also have the knowledge to recommend safe storage methods and ensuing the right chemical ends up in a suitable facility. For example, concentrated sulfuric acid must get stored in polyethylene tanks. You may also suggest how chemicals that give off fumes should never get handled without respirometers, body coveralls, and gloves. Flammable substances or metals should always get stored under a layer of oil to prevent reaction with oxygen. If a factory produces mists, suggest ventilation techniques to prevent toxins from building up.
This also extends to hospitals and handling biohazards like virus samples, contaminated blood samples, and medical instruments. You can provide specialized bags and boxes where these hazards can be disposed of and recommend areas where Regulating authorities can build dumping sites. This prevents biohazards from getting burnt or thrown into bodies of water, which introduces a fresh wave of problems like a disease.
6. Medical Testing
Before a medicine can enter the mainstream market, it needs to get tested first. The test occurs in a series of steps and through clinical trials. You can quickly head these trails and discover what reaction the new drug induces. Then, when a volunteer consumes the medicine, you will be pivotal in studying the rate of absorption in the blood, impact on metabolism, duration of the desired effect, frequency of the side effects, and potency.
If the drug gets absorbed fast, doesn’t require multiple doses, and has little to no side effects while working on a large demographic. By analyzing blood reports and dissecting the chemical composition of the medicine, you can generate a report and pass it along to the pharmaceutical company you can start mass-producing.
7. Educate Others on The Effects of Chemical Pollution
Industries contribute tenfold to pollution. The waste they produce seeps into the food, water, and environment. The immediate effects of consuming contaminated substances can be easy to bounce back from, such as recovering from food poisoning. However, long-term damages may be irreversible. As a toxicologist, you can run forecasts on how the population will get impacted by prolonged exposure to harmful toxins like mercury.
You may explore the impact on reproductive health, babies born with mutations, low life expectancy, impaired nervous system, and multiple organ failure. By identifying the problem, you can also look into providing solutions such as what industries can do to mitigate the risk. This can include using filters, safe disposals of chemicals instead of dumping, and using more environmentally friendly methods.
Toxicology is an essential field in science. Your skills can help keep the population safe by dimming the effects of chemical toxins in the body. In addition, your skills are also helpful in solving high-profile criminal cases and investigating new medicines.
As a toxicologist, your methods of researching, collecting samples, and generating reports help you understand these risks. You also keep the environment safer and cleaned by discussing secure storage and disposal methods. Another fundamental task you perform is to inform the population about the long-term effects of exposure. This can help industries mend their ways and look for environment-safe methods of working with harsh chemicals.