After Work Socializing Went Well

After a huge job at work—one of those it-has-to-be-done now orders. I hate when something comes in on an emergency basis because it means long days and maybe an even longer night. It might have to do with a blood sample for a crime and thus the lab goes into full gear. We all go home totally exhausted after the final report has been submitted and we get the “all clear” signal. Most of the time, work is routine, and these emergencies are exciting, but only when we get all the details. We want to know what the police is doing for the case. I specialize in toxicology, so it has to do with poisoning, but there may still be a DNA test to run. If so, I pitch in and work on other requests while the experts are busy on the job. Don’t get me wrong; I love my job and find it eminently rewarding.

We all face an excess of work now and then, so it is not really appropriate to complain. I am sure you have your issues. But I feel like venting today and telling you how I found a new way to relax. Normally I go home and sit for an hour in a hot tub to turn off my mind. I also like to listen to soft music. What is your method? This time, I sought company which is not my usual modus operandi. I often want quiet with no one around. I felt like talking things over with a friend and sharing some recent new and I wasn’t going to let eyestrain or fatigue get in the way. I decided to join a small social event at my friend’s house taking place in her lovely back yard after chatting to her on Facebook. What could relax a soul more than a peaceful garden and some piped in instrumental music? She happens to have a large patio with the most comfortable upholstered chairs. I found my spot the moment I arrived under the best outdoor ceiling fan I’ve ever seen that circulated cool air over all the guests.

A ceiling fan inside or out is a genius idea. Watching it is absolutely hypnotic. Plus, the one my friend installed is beautifully done in a rich walnut color. I prefer stained wood any day to the new industrial metal blades people are buying. I could go on and on. A fan is much more than a utilitarian appliance on warm nights. It is a nice décor item in any space. I can easily envision one in my den. It has a casual atmosphere and the large sliding glass doors let in a lot of sunlight, heating up the room without affecting the rest of the house. I don’t want to turn on the AC, so a fan would be the perfect solution to several problems. I expect to find one online and have it delivered in just a few days.

Spent the Day with Family

I work hard and never complain. The work I do in the toxicology lab is important and impacts people’s lives. But I do need time off to get my bearings and refocus. Some people have hobbies and go boating, camping in the mountains, or take a trip to places unknown. For me, I am happy to stay near home and enjoy the company of my family: particularly my sister and her kids. My niece and nephew are adorable and it is a rare day off when I can see them for many hours.

The most fun day off in years took place at their home in the suburbs. They have a huge backyard filled with all kinds of recreational facilities. They have an above-ground pool, trampoline, full outdoor kitchen with barbecue grill, and a plastic jungle gym. It looks like a preschool recess area. I was set on playing with the kids and not as a dutiful aunt. I was really into their world that day. We enjoyed a fun picnic on the patio, took a swim, and ended the time together on the trampoline, competing for “prizes.” The children had come up with all kinds of silly awards for outstanding performance based on ideas from including silly string, face paint, card games, and the like.

When it came to my turn on the trampoline, I was a complete novice. I could only bounce up and down like a fool. I had no clue about flips and somersaults, and could not even execute a simple half twist. The kids won all the prizes of course and I went home with nothing but memories of a terrific outing. Meanwhile, I was so surprised at how sore I was after an hour session. I was aching a bit that night in my back and my legs were like jelly. How do these kids survive? They are tough little buggers.

I found the trampoline to be an ideal way to bond with your family and spend quality time. It is also terrific for burning off tension and excess energy (for me the former and for my nephew and niece the latter). No wonder it is touted as more than mere amusement, and a new form of exercise. Forget the formidable equipment at the gym where you have to know how to adjust the tension and weight. You can put on some soft shoes and begin immediately to clear the cobwebs from your Mind. It is thus a physical and mental kind of therapy that does the body a world of good.

I went back to the lab feeling fresh and new. I expect that I will be inviting myself over to my sister’s house very soon. I love the wild and free feeling that jumping brings. You feel buoyant and alive. It is the best way I know how at this moment to regroup and get a new start in life. Imagine getting to do it every day!

What a Touching and Thoughtful Gift!

Sometimes people surprise me. Recently, I received a very thoughtful gift from a colleague in the lab where I work. We investigate toxins together and it takes a lot of time at the microscope hunched over in an uncomfortable position on a backless chair. We have to be higher off the ground than people who work at computers. We use stools so we can move them from one machine to another quickly. Thus, we don’t have to get up and it saves time. We are often very busy and time is a factor when answers are waiting about a given poison. Lives can be at stake and if there is foul play involved, the police can’t act until they have more details. Most of the time we deal with accidental ingestion by children. Sometimes unknowing adults make mistakes. This is a typical day at the lab.

Meanwhile, I had been complaining about my back and my colleague overheard me go on about my soreness. I guess he took it to heart and the next day, he brought in a marvelous gadget: a massage chair pad. If you haven’t seen one, it is a wonderful device that fits over most standard-sized chairs to provide a gentle pressure to relieve back pain. Given that I use a stool, I elected to place it in my car so I could relax on the way home. I do have a desk in an office near the main lab, but I have a long drive and it is a good time to have a treatment. It is easy to move and I can take it inside the house and turn on the relaxing massage chair pad while watching TV in my favorite chair. Let me tell you, this is the best gift I ever had, one tailored perfectly to my needs.

I wanted to reciprocate beyond a perfunctory thank you. I thought long and hard. What would my lab mate like? Does he go fishing? Does he enjoy a favorite sport? I really didn’t know him that well, and we’re not even friends on Facebook. There must be a universal gift for men or women that most would appreciate. Then I got lucky. During our lunch break, he was off in a corner reading a book. When he returned to the lab area, I sneaked a peek. He was studying stamp collecting. Aha! Now I knew what to get him. Then I paused. What stamps did he already own? Was he specializing in a certain time period or country? Now I was at sea. I would have to do some investigating. One way was to listen to his phone conversations. By chance, a few days later I heard him talk about wanting some stamps from Bolivia. Apparently, he was honing in on South America. I immediately went on line and found a source. It was easy to select a group of stamps and it arrived in just a few days. You can imagine the surprise on his face. It was the same as mine when I got the massage chair pad.

Iron Poisoning

In my work, I encounter all kinds of interesting cases. One involved iron poisoning, something that certainly a toxicologist could investigate. I often encounter heavy metals, meaning that they have high densities. It is no secret that these chemicals, and their derivatives, pose health hazards to humans who are exposed to them in high concentrations. In this state, we say that these metals are toxic when inhaled, ingested, or otherwise penetrate the skin. In the case I was examining, I was looking at the buildup of the metal in question—iron—in the soft tissues. It is a serious problem in that it can cause organ damage and even death. The current case at hand was mildly severe. That was my conclusion. It is because the manner in which it was absorbed being chronic rather than acute. The patient must have had continual exposure. I was the appointed detective to find out how and why. It usually happens to children and not adults. Kids who exhibit vomiting and diarrhea symptoms are diagnosed with iron poisoning. In this case, the adult had hypertension and renal issues.

Iron is a sore subject with me in that I am mildly anemic. It is a condition associated with iron deficiency, the opposite of my overdose case. As a result, there is a drop in my red blood cell count. I have to take iron supplements. I am careful never to take too many having seen what can happen to the body. I make sure I am fully awake in the morning when I reach for the bottle. Have you ever taken a pill and forget that you have taken it? It happens all the time so be very careful.

A friend of mine who does metal detecting, gold and silver in particular, asked if he could do the gold ring test on me to see if I did in fact have anemia. I knew I did but was curious as to what he had up his sleeve. The theory is that rubbing a gold ring on the outside of your cheek will be an indicator of anemia. A dark line will appear if the answer is yes; no line means no iron deficiency. As a scientist, I sincerely question this old wives’ tale. The black line could be an anomaly or a reaction of the skin to the metal depending upon one’s skin chemistry and if one is wearing cosmetics or some kind of lotion. Some say the line is the transfer of dirt from the ring. It is all hocus pocus to me. He’s got a whole bag of tricks to do with telling if the gold he’s found is real, many of which were from I let him perform the “test” and it was positive, of course. He would never want to admit defeat.

I told him as he left that he should stick to detecting gold and it would be a better usage of his time to find out if it was real.

Is Your Water Safe?

In my work, I see the results of toxic substances and often the picture is grim. I know that even water can be unhealthy. If you think you are safe, you may not be. Your tap water in itself can contain pollutants and chemicals such as iron and manganese—and more. Water can carry disease despite the fact that it is the fluid of life. It could be those rusty old pipes that won’t go away. They will keep pumping out bad water. Don’t even think about drinking or bathing in it! Everyone should heed my words of warning and test their water. You can buy a kit in a hardware store or on line or choose to hire a handyman or plumber. It isn’t difficult so with some instruction, you can save the money.

I hope I have already convinced you to take note of potentially harmful elements in your midst, such as lead in your water. Why not safeguard your health with a simple test kit. You can send a vial of your water to a lab to see if there is leakage from your pipes. I prefer to let the professionals get the results rather than you doing the evaluation yourself with some coated test strips. You want to be sure.

If the results indicate severe problems, you may need new pipes. I hope that is not the case. If you are lucky, it may be some minor pollutants and a whole house water filter system from Home Water Health can take care of it. It is certainly more economical, and believe me, they work. I prefer to tackle all the faucets in the house rather than installing a simple unit that hooks onto the kitchen faucet. You can then drink from the tap to rinse your mouth while brushing your teeth in the bathroom. For a couple hundred dollars, a technician will come to your home and install the system of your choice. It depends on how many gallons of water you want filtered per day: fifty, seventy five? The smaller the family, the smaller the model needed. These, by the way, are low maintenance and efficient. You don’t have to add anything to a reverse osmosis system. If you chose one that requires a water softener, your service man will come to do it. You are free from responsibility.

I hope you are sold on some type of water filtering and/or softening system and now you can get specific recommendations by reading the descriptions and product reviews. People tell the truth about what they like and dislike. The Internet is your guide. Otherwise, check the Yellow Pages for the provider nearest you. Ask for client testimonials and you can’t go wrong. Pure, clean water is at hand. You don’t want to see what I see in my lab. Many people have gotten sick from lead poisoning in old homes. Be sure to check your water today.

If You Come in Contact with Poison

Imagine going through life worrying about poison. Well, I do and it is willingly. It is my profession and I love it. I do research that helps people deal with toxins. It is not necessarily the most important aspect of my job, but I can teach you the best way to deal with touching or ingesting poisons of various kinds. Poison control is simple if you know the protocol. Most likely you will not unknowingly consume something dangerous, but your child might. Therefore, the first order of business today is to warn you about childproofing your home. You must lock up any cleaning solvents or insect sprays including those in the garage. While they smell bad, it doesn’t deter a curious tot.

For some poisons, there are antidotes that will stave off illness and death. You can buy a chart online. They include terrorist attacks in the form of biological warfare, but frankly I am not as concerned with that. One example is Narcan to counteract an opioid overdose. Yes, poison comes in the form of prescription medication. Meanwhile, if you touch anything toxic, be sure to wash the area with plenty of cold water (not hot). No need to turn the left handle – you can put someone on Water Heater Watch if need be. Just go with cool tap water as is.

When someone ingests a poison, immediately call 911 and don’t administer water, milk, or anything else. They will know what to do. Don’t take matters into your own hands or you could delay treatment. While waiting, you can read the product label.

What is most difficult for some parents is recognizing poisoning. There may not be symptoms. They usually find the child crying next to the product in question. “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” Don’t panic while you reach for the phone. The child will sense your terror. Never lose a moment. Look for violent pain and vomiting. In extreme cases, there will be convulsions, seizures, or paralysis. Try to stay calm and not frighten the victim.

There are three tips to mention in regard to poison control.

  1. Dispose of the culprit in case there are other children in the house.
  2. Stop the effects if you know how or as instructed by the operator at 911. You might administer an emetic like mustard, salt, and water to dilute a poison. Be sure to tell the operator the name of the product.
  3. Remedy the harm done. This is the role of the EMTs or hospital emergency physician.

Another tip is to notice bites, stings, and puncture wounds on a crying child. The “poison” might be bee or wasp venom or rust from an old garden tool. When you have offspring, danger lurks in every corner. A crisis should never happen if you anticipate in advance. As a family member or friend to help you check your house and yard. Remember, snail bait powder is out there along with weed killer and ant spray.

Work has made me Tidy

Every career has its ups and downs and entry problems, even my field of toxicology. You can love what you do and still look longingly at other fields. It is not harmful to daydream, so to speak. When you stay with what you know after making comparisons, it validates and intensifies what you do.

Toxicology involves lab work. It doesn’t have to be if you manage the staff or teach in a university. When I first looked at “Careers in Toxicology” on line I saw everything from toxicology software programmer to “Clinical Lab Scientific Specialist.” No matter the name of the position, a toxicologist generally studies the negative effects of chemicals on living beings, from organisms to humans. You can observe and report symptoms, detect causes, and suggest treatment for toxic substances. Some people think you are a poison specialist. Toxic agents can be found in nature as well as drugs and products. Ingesting a particular element may cause great harm. In children, it can disturb their growth. In adults, it can cause discomfort and illness, even death. It is a vital subject. Now you have my intro and have an inkling why I love my job.

As a result of my awareness of evil lurking in one’s immediate environment, I am super sensitive about how I keep house and am hygienic by nature. I am also intense about the cleanliness of the lab. In both places, I require strict adherence to top standards and at work to OSHA rules. In addition to the usual cleaning products (mine are green and toxic free of course), I have a bagless vacuum standing by. I selected it after reading about it on The Vacuum Challenge. With this model, you can grab dust and dirt, and even suck up liquid spills with a special brushless attachment. It is a hose attached to the main unit with a nozzle on the end.

If you use a HEPA filter in your own vacuum, you are in sync with me. Sometimes I think that there are so many pollutants in the air that we should wear them over our noses and mouths. Ha! It would look odd. People would think there was an epidemic going on like a flu outbreak. I can tell you that most toxicologists are insistent on a better quality of air. Many use humidifiers and other appliances that clean the atmosphere. There are so many scary stories out there about breathing problems. Living in a smog zone means you are inhaling death.

I hate to be grim, but after all, toxicology is about ill health. If something is toxic by nature, it can’t be good. Labs are dedicated to determining the degree of harm a certain chemical agent can have. There are subspecialties within the field such as clinical, occupational, medical, forensic, and environmental toxicology. In some scientific lab research, rats or “surrogates” are used to determine toxicity. The results are then applied to humans. This is how it works, in a nutshell.

Sad Day at Work

When you work in a toxicology lab, there are certain statistics that interest you. We recently had a spate of fatal self-poisonings, and wanted to know why there was a rise in incidence. There also seem to be a particular group of toxins used repeatedly. There are about five recurring poisons, some of which can be made at home accounting for their frequent use. The ingredients are easy to acquire and little effort is necessary to turn them into sources of death. The first I want to mention is ricin, a very deadly one derived from plants. It is very harmful and a favorite murder weapon among those who know that it is tasteless and odorless. It need not be disguised. All you need are castor oil beans and some solvent to break down the oils and fats. The method of death is to inhale or ingest ricin as a fine dust. The body’s immune system suffers from an uncontrollable infection.

Next in popularity is rotten meat poison produced obviously from bad meat and excrement to produce a botulinum toxin. This word gives me chills as it is one of the most toxic poisons known to man. I hate to even bring it up. Now that I have enumerated five common suicide culprits, my thoughts are turning to other matters. Why is depression on the rise? It is the cause of taking one’s life and it can be related to a loss of a loved one, ill health, anxiety and hopelessness. If a person is not treated, he or she may feel it is time to end it all. In addition, there is a little known fact that a lack of sufficient sunlight can cause serious depression, according to Be Right Light. It is treatable fortunately by relocating or with light therapy. This has been the successful answer in countries with a dark climate like Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, can be experienced in many other parts of the world. No wonder many people travel in winter to sunny lands.

The last that I will talk about here is potato poison. It is less toxic than ricin, yet super deadly if you eat enough of it. You can put it in food or drink and it will cause convulsions, lung shutdown, and even a coma. It is frightful. Many use nicotine injected or ingested. It produces a lethal shock to the body and paralyzes brain function leading to coma and ultimately death. Most of you have heard of our third example: cyanide. It can be used as a gas causing respiratory malfunction and immediate death. Let me give you some details. It can be extracted from apples, peaches, plums, or apricots using their leaves and seeds. A homemade version involves grinding and heating the ingredients. I wonder what was used at Jonestown that was added to the cool aid. This was the worst case of mass cyanide poisoning in history.

Alternative Methods of Testing

To determine the toxicity levels and various other important medical factors, the process of testing new products or chemicals has at some point required the use of animals. Having said that, scientists have been able to come up with proven and alternative strategies that have been shown to lead to much safe and effective production of drugs for animal consumptions. For instance, factors such as skin corrosivity and irritation are much convenient to measure by using three dimensional human skin models such as Skin Ethic. Other alternatives include Episkin and various other complex and computer based structures that can be used to determine the corrosion levels. Besides that, these can also be used to determine irritation by methods of co-relation a new drug with its likely results.

Although testing in animal models is only a method of evaluating human side effects, both these methods tend to attract a host ethical concerns, especially when it comes to animal testing. For instance, since the late 1950s, various experts in toxicology have sought ways to mitigate or reduce animal testing procedures. For instance, one of the most common of them all is the `Three Rs`. This is a term used to refer to reduce the number of experiments conducted on animals, refine experiments to cause less suffering and reduce the number of life forms used when possible.

Computer modeling is one of the main examples of alternative methods of testing. Here, specific computer models of proteins and chemicals are used to identify relationships and functions as well. This procedure often requires expert competencies in molecular modeling along with statistics to achieve the bests results. Toxicity testing is approaching a scientific turning point, and it is increasingly leveraging the benefits of biotechnology and biology fields as well. The various upgrades in the relevant fields will make the toxicology testing much more convenient, and this will lead to the discovery of several medical solutions. In some instances, adjustments from animal studies have been supported by regulations and law. For example, the European Union recently banned the use of animal testing for cosmetic procedures in 2013.

The ever-increasing costs of health care and the cost of some medicines make it challenging to address toxicology. The side effects of consuming the wrong medication are inherent. The government of the USA provides various statistics to support these facts. For instance, a recent study showed that an average of 125,000 individuals dies each year due to consuming their medicines inappropriately.

What is Toxicology?

This refers to the scientific study of the side effects in animals that are caused by chemicals. In most cases, this procedure comprises of observing and reporting various factors to realize the best results. Some of the main ones including mechanisms, symptoms, detection and the treatment provide for toxic substances use.

More so, it often comprises of environmental factors and chemical compounds that are available in nature, along with pharmaceutical products that are developed in the labs. These substances might produce significant side effects in organisms including compromising growth patterns, disease, and discomfort among many other factors. The dosage of the substance used is a key factor in toxicology since it plays a notable role in the side effects experienced by the individual. In fact, it is the main method of categorizing the toxicity levels of the chemicals, since it quantifies the amount of the chemical and its exposure levels as well. Most substances have the potential of being toxic when delivered to living organisms in the appropriate conditions. One common term used in toxicology would be the `LD50`, which refers to a substance that displays toxicity in that it eliminates as much as 50percent of the text population. Generally, rats and other animals are used to test the toxicity levels of data.

Branches of toxicology

There are several aspects of toxicology, otherwise known as subspecialties or subdisciplines. Some of the main ones including toxicogenomics, chemical toxicology, clinical toxicology and aquatic toxicology among many others

Chemical Toxicology

This refers to a branch of toxicology that is focused on the structure of chemical agents and the side effects of the mechanism of action of animals. It is a multi-discipline approach that comprises of synthetic and computational chemistry procedures. Besides that, some of the fields that are specialized in this case include drug discovery, metabolomics, proteomics and bioinformatics among many others. This procedure is dependent on technological innovation that is used to understand the chemical aspects of toxicology much better.

Toxicology and Pharmacology Differences

While these two fields might share a host of similar characteristics, they also have their notable differences. Toxicology and pharmacology are both studies that are concerned with the study of chemical properties and their side effects on the body. Pharmacology is primarily concerned with therapeutic side effects of pharmaceutical products and how they can be utilized for optimal medical results. More so, toxicology is also closely related to the notable side effects that occur in living organisms that come into contact with various chemicals. A toxicologist is more concerned with measuring the risk associated with using specific evaluation tools.


A toxicologist is someone who has studied toxicology and used chemicals and materials to determine the toxic side effects they have on living organisms and the environment. Individuals who prefer methodic and scientific fields might be best suited for careers in toxicology. The toxicologist may also specialize in one of the several branches of the field.

Why Proper Dosing is Important

There are several reasons why people often fail to consume the correct drugs. One of the most common reasons is that the simply forget, or they are just sometimes prone to negligence. For any medication, you should only provide the dosage that is described on the label along with the relevant instructions. The dosage is often carefully determined by the doctor and can be determined by a host of factors including weight, age, liver health, and kidney health among others. More so, for some medications, the dosage can only be determined by using techniques such as trial and error.

For these drugs, the health care service provider is directly inclined to evaluate your health before the treatment procedure. For example, if the doctor prescribes a thyroid medication or blood thinners, you might have to undergo a host of blood tests over time to determine if the dose is suitable for your needs. The results from these tests can then be used by the doctor to customize the dosage until they can find suitable one for your needs. For effectiveness, many medications need to accumulate to a certain amount in the blood. These medications are to be given at particular times, to ensure that the drug is maintained at the appropriate levels. Consuming the dose too soon might lead to an unwanted increase and missing a dose might compromise your recovery needs.

Potential Problems

There are several adverse side effects that can occur when you consume any drug. These side effects comprise of allergic reactions or interactions with other prescription drugs that you are already on. To avoid these complications, ensure that you inform your practitioner of such medications. More so, ensure that you also inform them of your medical and food allergies as well.

Those drugs that are likely to lead to adverse side effects are often prescribed under the care of a healthcare service provider. In some cases, the health care service provider might have to retain you in their facility such that they can monitor the side effects of the drug to your health. If you consume the medication yourself, then it’s up to you to monitor your health for complications including rashes, swelling, and other notable side effects. Ensure that you consume your medication in the appropriate does to get the most out of them and to reduce the likelihood of any side effects.

My Job is Not Like a Crime TV Show

While I was able to pursue my passion of becoming a toxicologist, my job Is not like a crime TV show. In fact, it’s a career that requires that one cultivates various values before anything to achieve the best results. Some of the main ones including discipline, hard work, dedication and an affinity for learning new things. It is important to note that most Crime TV shows are often ore concerned with ratings, and this plays a major role in the content which they air. While my career might be filled with exciting procedures and tasks, it is not of the same nature as what is often portrayed in the convention Crime TV shows.

Toxicology Careers

Similar to most medical careers, there is no shortcut or `magic pill` that will make you an expert in your field. The only way to achieve success and fulfil all your goals is when you can make informed decisions each time. This means that you have to develop a work ethic and also an affinity for acquiring knowledge. Failure to embrace the appropriate values, when it comes to any career especially toxicology, ma make you ineffective at producing results. This can compromise the heights, which you can reach in your career.

The conventional toxicology-schooling program often comprises of various topics that not only hard work to understand them, but that one should also develop a passion for the same as well. In this way, the learning and providing people with valuable results Is not but a task for you, but an experience that you enjoy. It is only through this approach that you can be able to soar to unstoppable heights in your career and make a positive impression on your employers and clients as well.


One of the sure-fire techniques that one could use to become a success in almost any area of life is that you have to develop the appropriate values. This is because it is values that determine our behaviors and perspectives of the world, which in turn play an important role in our careers as well. More so, we are also inclined to follow our passion in life, rather than just following careers for monetary and various other tangible benefits. In fact, the pursuit of such items in a career can compromise your effectiveness. More so, there is also a strong correlation that exists in between those who work hard in their careers and their levels of success as well. This is especially true for a career such as toxicology, whereby one has to gain an in-depth understanding of all the relevant concepts to attain qualifications. This should come as no surprise since toxicologists play a major role in medication, which is key for survival and overall well being as well.