As many people now know from favorite TV shows, one of the most influential people when it comes to solving a crime is a forensic toxicologist. Despite this fact, the public at large still does not know a lot about what the responsibilities of a toxicologists is and what a forensic toxicologist does. To help below is a list of the different services a forensic toxicologist may provide.
Crime Scene Investigation
Often, forensic toxicologists are called upon after a discovery at a crime scene. Usually, this is the body of a person that may or may not have died from unnatural causes. The body will be removed from the crime scene and placed into a sterile environment so an autopsy can be performed.
A forensic toxicologist would then examine different samples taken from the deceased to determine what toxins were present in that person’s body and whether or not they were present in lethal amounts. For example, a forensic toxicologist may be able to determine whether or not a person perished from chemical exposure.
Forensic Witness Testimony
Such a toxicologist may also be called upon to provide forensic witness testimony. For example, the prosecution may call upon such a person to testify that a murder was committed with the use of a particular poison.
However, the prosecution isn’t always the only side that uses expert witness services. In the same poisoning case, the defense may call upon a different forensic toxicologist to provide testimony that suggests that the poison did not cause the deceased’s death. Such a person is sometimes referred to as a causation expert.
Third, such an expert may be used to investigate the toxins present in a certain location. This field is sometimes referred to as environmental toxicology. For example, there may be a reason to believe that lead from an abandoned factory was released into a nearby water supply. If that’s the case, an environmental toxicologist may be called upon to test that water. The water would then be taken to a laboratory where the toxicity of lead present in the water would be determined.
Lastly, many forensic toxicologists spend time teaching others the science behind forensic toxicology. This is in part because crime scene investigation and forensic science have become one of the largest and fastest growing career paths for students across many countries. This is both the case at large universities as well as smaller community colleges.
However, a toxicologist who teaches will not spend all of his or her time in a classroom. It is usually expected that plenty of research in the laboratory and the field will be continued. This allows students to benefit from the knowledge of the latest theories and methodologies.
A toxicologist may also have a career in testing performance-enhancing drugs for athletes, testing animal remains in a wildlife agency and drug testing employees for businesses and law enforcement agencies. A person in this career may also work as in product testing or become an instructor.