Toxicology is an important field of study and one that is in high demand with a variety of different niches. From hospitals and medical facilities to working with investigative law enforcement agencies, there is always a high demand for a well-trained, skilled, and experienced toxicologist.
There are many different types of toxicology and the exact parameters of a toxicologist’s job will depend on what sector they’re in. This is a fascinating field, and one that offers plenty of interesting work for those who work to excel at it.
Different Types of Toxicology
Most people are familiar with forensic toxicology because of crime shows on TV like “NCIS” or “Law & Order” and others. However, there are actually multiple different areas in this field, and each one not only features different tests but also serve different purposes. The job of a forensic toxicologist, environmental toxicologist, and veterinary toxicologist are three very different things.
The 7 main types of toxicology are:
Toxicology Drug Testing
These types of tests are often used in one of four main areas. There are the forensic tests that are looking for traces of drugs in the system of a deceased individual. This could be test done because of suspicion of homicide, it could be for suicide, it could be to confirm an accidental overdose. Whatever the reason – these tests are important to get to the bottom of the situation.
These drug tests are also important for drug testing at the workplace, testing athletes for using performance enhancing drugs, and of course there are a variety of clinical drug tests by doctors and hospitals that have a variety of practical real world uses. All of these fall under this umbrella term.
Just What Does a Toxicology Report Show?
The time that it takes for toxicology reports to come together can vary greatly. Some tests can take mere minutes while many take months to sort through. These are generally far more complex than the ones that are shown on popular crime drama TV shows.
What information can be found out also depends on the type of tests being run, what specifically is being searched for, and the tools that are available. The quality of the sample being tested can also matters.
A hospital toxicology test, for example, is relatively simple compared to others but looks through urine or blood to find signs of various drugs or alcohol that leaves hints in the sample. These tests can be used to look at a really wide variety of potential drugs and can get incredibly specific in identifying them.
Responsibilities of a Toxicologist
Once again, exact responsibilities are going to vary a lot based on the specific field or test but there are some general responsibilities that hold true. The ability to pull off highly technical tests, clearly communicate the data from those tests in a non-technical way, and in many cases being able to keep confidence. Depending on the position a toxicologist can find themselves working on a criminal case, a civil case, or working with sensitive information and they need to be trusted to be able to keep quiet when appropriate.