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Toxicologists study the harmful effects of chemical, physical and biological agents on living organisms by detecting and examining the symptoms, mechanisms and treatments of poisoning (especially the poisoning of people). They also determine safe or acceptable levels of exposure to particular agents.

Duties & Tasks
Toxicologists may perform the following tasks:
  • study the amount of exposure to a substance (from pollution caused by environmental contaminants such as industrial waste products or emergency events such as a gas leak, for example) and the potential effect it may have on public health, plants, animals and the ecosystem
  • study how exposure to foreign chemicals affects the genetic, chemical, physical and structural composition of cells, tissues, organ systems and whole organisms
  • devise and carry out experiments to determine how chemical or drug concentrations in the body change over time
  • test newly discovered or manufactured substances for their safety, effects and possible use as drugs
  • analyse blood, urine and other biological and environmental samples to identify the chemical composition and concentration of drugs, contaminants and other substances
  • evaluate evidence from cases where tampering and contamination has occurred
  • write scientific reports on research and investigations, as well as more general information for scientific, managerial, political and general audiences
  • document results, preserve evidence and maintain chain of custody (the document or paper trail showing the process from evidence seizure through to the presentation of the evidence in court) in criminal investigations
  • provide advice to managers, politicians, primary producers, healthcare workers, the general public and community groups.
  • Personal requirements
  • enjoy and have an aptitude for science and research
  • able to think logically and analytically
  • able to carry out detailed and accurate work
  • good communication skills
  • able to think creatively and solve problems
  • able to work as part of a team.
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