Key functions and sub-disciplines within the field of toxicology.

Toxicology comes from two Greek words, ‘Toxicos’ means poisonous and “logos” means to study. So, toxicology is the branch of science dealing with the study of adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. Sub-disciplines within this field are:

  • Computational toxicology: deals with the construction of computer-based models; these models will predict adverse effects of chemicals on living beings.
  • Forensic toxicology: deals with the use of toxicology in criminal investigations.
  • Aquatic toxicology: deals with the effects of chemicals on aquatic organisms.
  • Occupational toxicology: also known as industrial toxicology; this discipline deals with biological effects of toxic agents on people who are working in toxic environments.
  • Ecotoxicology: deals with the effect of toxic agents on the ecosystem as a whole.
  • Entomo-toxicology: This area deals with toxins present or located in arthropods, mainly flies, and beetles which feed on decaying matter of animals.

How does this important field of study help the safety of health professional in doing his or her job?

One of the important areas of work in Toxicology is to define a “Threshold dose”. Threshold dose means “a dose below which harmful effects of a particular chemical are not seen”. Health professionals work with toxic chemicals always below the threshold dose.

This threshold dose ensures not only the safety of health professionals during their job; but also ensures the safety of other people who will be using this chemical in the near future.


  1. Alema al. (2016) “Role of chronic toxicology in revealing new toxicities”, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 82:94-98
  2. Chris Kent (1998) “Basics of Toxicology”, Published by, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.