Core Concepts in Toxicology

  • Philip C. Burcham


Modern toxicology uses many distinctive terms and concepts during its efforts to explain toxic phenomena. Firstly, since a suitable umbrella term is needed for the types of substances that are of concern to toxicologists, this chapter explores linguistic nuances surrounding such words as poison, toxin, xenobiotic, endobiotic and toxicant. Next, the complications that can accompany study of toxicity due to differences in the duration of chemical exposure are explored as determinants of toxic responses. The importance of dose in governing the severity of toxicity after chemical exposure is surveyed, together with the role of individual factors in predisposing susceptible subpopulations to exaggerated toxic responses. The possibility of interactions between chemicals in complex ‘real-world’ exposure scenarios involving simultaneous exposure to more than one substance is also considered. The role of lifestyle factors in shaping individual susceptibility to chemical toxicity is also highlighted, as is the timing of the manifestation of toxicity following toxicant exposure.


allergies dose idiosyncratic toxicity latent toxicity local toxicity obesogens poison toxicant systemic toxicity xenobiotic 

Going Further

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip C. Burcham
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine and PharmacologyThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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