Forensic Essay

1979 words - 8 pages

Forensic Toxicology
    It was during the years of 1998 and 2001 that a very demure and innocent looking woman named Van le Thahn began her killing spree. Thahn was 49 years old  at the time and was from the city of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Van le Thahn successfully poisoned 13 people with cyanide. Named the Vietnamese Black Widow, Van would intentionally place herself in situations that would allow her to interact with people who were rich and affluent. After gaining access to the circle, Van would befriend those that she thought would be easy targets and victims to her scheme. She would cook for her new found “friends” and provide drinks that contained cyanide which ultimately ended their ...view middle of the document...

With victims like the ones in Van’s case using the naked eye will only continue to leave questions as to how the death occurred. Thus, what is forensic toxicology, anyway?Just what is the role of a forensic toxicologist? How does the science of forensic toxicology impact the the legal environment and their approaches for capturing a killer?
   To begin the task of defining forensic toxicology I must define toxicology first.
Toxicology has been defined as the science that treats of the origin, nature, and properties of poisons. In toxicology the goal is to identify the composition of the chemicals in the preparation and identification of legal and non legal drugs. Toxicology also identify the same composition in alcohol, and poison as well. The toxicologist's goal is to break down how these properties are distributed, eliminated, and absorbed in the human body, additionally, this includes how the human body responds to the drugs, alcohol, and poison. When coupled with forensic, toxicology then becomes the application of toxicology for the purposes of law. It was in 1813 the overall work of forensic toxicology was published by Mathieu Orifila. Born in Minorca a Spaniard, Orifila became a physician and an adored Spanish chemist who was later in life considered the “father of toxicology”. Mathieu's first work titled “Toxicologie ge'nerale  “ at the young age of twenty-seven is what got him his pen name. This work includes an insurmountable amount of information of experimental observations pertaining to the manifestation of poisonings of numerous kinds; the appearances which poisons leave in a body that is dead; their physiological trail, and ways to detect them. In order for forensic toxicology to be a successful process one must know how and where these toxins affect the human body. Generally forensic toxicology and chemistry includes the discovery and characterization of poisons and toxins displaying conflicting physiological results. Forensic toxicology a very advanced science that is based on a largely accepted scientific method as well as practices for both the analysis of drugs in  biological materials and understanding of those results. The innovations of clinical medicine coupled with a slue of academic laboratories all over the world has allowed for the derivatives of this technology to flourish.
   There are four disciplines of Forensic toxicology: Death Investigation Toxicology (Postmortem toxicology), Human performance toxicology, doping control, and forensic workplace drug testing. The first, Death Investigation toxicology assists in determining the exact role that alcohol, drugs, and poisons play in the cause of a person’s death. Human performance toxicology tests how the alcohol and drugs effects human performance and behavior. Doping control tracks the use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes for the purpose of increasing their potential for winning. Forensic workplace drug testing is pretty self explanatory, it is...

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