Toxicology deals with subjects of biological agents and poisons and their effects on the human body. It is one field that has a bit of many other fields such as pharmacology, biochemistry, pathology and histology among others. No other professional studies poisons and their effects on living systems the way a toxicologist does. At one point of time, toxicology was only dealing with toxic materials but now its functions has expanded from identifying poisons and searching for treatments to include forensic toxicology. A trained toxicologist also tests and detects new potentially toxic substances used in workplaces, in cosmetics, agriculture and food additives. A toxicologist watches out for toxic waste in the air, water, and soil. He uses his skills to formulate safety standards in occupational and other environments.
The job of a toxicologist is full of responsibilities that have huge impact on human beings and on our environment. Many chemicals have harmful effects on living beings. These professionals are in a way, trained medical scientists that thoroughly analyze adverse impacts of these chemicals on humans, animals and environment in general. They are involved in supervising regulatory compliance and also assist with product safety. A toxicologist conducts field studies and laboratory experiments to identify health hazards. Their job role further extends to detecting and evaluating poisoning and treatment options. They are trained in conducting researches to establish short-term and long-term impact of toxic materials on humans, animals and plants and devise ways to minimize these impacts. They provide suggestions in regards of how to develop ways to prevent exposure to toxins.
Most of the toxicologists have a master’s degree or doctorate degrees. Usually, the education in this subject most often takes place through laboratory and research programs. The subject involves vigorous study and extensive projects. Master’s degree can be obtained in subjects like toxicology, biochemistry or other related field. Those who wish to pursue a specialty field must get a doctorate degree. The course curriculum has subjects like biology, environmental studies, chemistry, biochemistry, epidemiology, health behavior and risk assessment etc. Internships and on the job training plays a vital role in this field. Students get to gain valuable practical experience thorough internships.
Students of toxicology are taught aspects like assessment of potential health risks, limits of acceptable exposure and nature of human exposure to chemicals and biological agents. A toxicologist spends most of his working time in laboratories using advanced techniques in analytical chemistry and biomedical sciences. A toxicologist can specialize in subjects like forensic toxicology, analytical toxicology, veterinary toxicology, environmental toxicology and clinical toxicology. They are required in chemical, pharmaceuticals and other related industries. They combine with pharmacologists to test chemicals in drugs and make sure products and workplaces are safe. Their services are required by government agencies for development and implementation of laws regarding the disposal of chemicals, use and safe production of different chemical elements.
In India following institutes offer courses in toxicology and related fields:-
Centre For Advancement In Health Sciences (CAHS), Mumbai
Institute of Clinical Research India (ICRI), New Delhi
National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab
TERI University, New Delhi
Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat
Courses are offered at M.Sc and doctorate levels