How to Classify Toxicants

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In essence, toxicology is the science of poison, toxicants, or toxins. A poison toxicant, or toxic is a substance capable of causing harm when administered to an organism. Harm is defined as seriously injuring or causing the death of an organism. The term toxicant can be a synonym for poison, or the term poison might be appropriate for the most potent substances. The term toxin usually refers to a poison derived from a protein or conjugated protein produced by some higher plant, animal, or pathogenic bacteria that is highly poisonous for other living organism. Food toxicology deals with substances found in food that might be harmful to those who consume sufficient quantities of the food containing such substances. Toxicants can be classified according to five categories. First category is based on their chemical structure, for example, aromatic amines (aniline), halogenated hydrocarbons (PCBs, and methylene chloride). Second category is based on their usage such as pesticides (atrazine), solvents (benzene) and food additives (saccharin). Other category is according to their physical state like gases (carbon monoxide), liquids (methanol) and solids (asbestos). Besides that toxicants also classified based on their toxic effect like mutagens (diethylnitrosamine), and hepatotoxins (chloroform). Lastly, toxicants are classified based on their biochemical mechanism of a toxic effect such as cholinesterase inhibitors (malathion) and methemoglobin-forming substances (nitrite). Food
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