Poison 101-Handout

Poison comes in four categories

•    Animal – venom

•    Vegetable – herbal, allergen

•    Mineral – heavy metals, elements

•    Synthetic – most drugs, pesticides

Methods of Ingestion

 •    Inhalation – breathing it in

•    Topical – absorbing through skin or mucous membranes

•    Consumption – eating or drinking

•    Injection – injected through skin (shots, bites, stings)


•     Every poison has a characteristic set of symptoms – check the MSDS

•     Paralysis, inflammation = suffocation

•     Binding to RBCs – no oxygen transport

•     Kinds of toxicity

—  General – kills cells w/out being consumed

—  Mutagenic – causes mutation (usually cancer)

—  Teratogenic – abortifacient or causes birth defects

 Miscellaneous about Poison

•    Classically considered a female weapon (no noisy bangs, no blood & guts, no up close and personal wrestling)

•    All poison leaves some trace behind, but most are very specific; you have to know what to look for

Looking for Poison

•     Methods of analysis differ based on substance being searched and substance being searched for:

—  Solvent extraction – GC, GC/MS, HPLC

—  Matrix digestion – AA, ICP, SpecID

•     Matrix interference – surrounding tissue/fluid does not allow substance of interest to be clearly analyzed

•     Immunity – continued exposure to minor amounts builds limited immunity to some poisons

•     Accumulation – hair, liver, lipids

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