Toxicology is the study of poisons and other substances that can cause harmful effects to the body. But it isn’t just about things like snake venom or cyanide. Any substance can be harmful if we have too much of it.
In sufficient amounts the very substances that we need to survive, such as water or air, can make us ill or even kill us.
This animation was made for the Royal Society of Chemistry Toxicology Group. It outlines the different ways that substances can interact with the body and the problems that can lead to now, later in life or even in future generations.
Importantly, just because a substance is natural it does not mean that it is completely harmless. Toxicologists use investigative methods to look at the differences in toxic effect between people of different ages, sexuality and health status, and even between different species.
Toxicologists do vital work to discover as much as possible about the safe dose of any substance, in our bodies or in the wider environment.