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Environmental Health & Toxicology: Home

Resources, methods and links for finding information and data on environmental health and toxicology

Definition & History

Toxicology (from the Greek words toxicos and logos) is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms.[1] It is the study of symptoms, mechanisms, treatments and detection of poisoning, especially the poisoning of people.

From the Wikipedia.  See also the history note that follows.

From MeSH, the subject headings used in MEDLINE (Scope note): "The science concerned with the detection, chemical composition, and biological action of toxic substances or poisons and the treatment and prevention of toxic manifestations."

Likewise the scope note for poisons from the Medical Subject Headings: "Substances which, when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed, or when applied to, injected into, or developed within the body in relatively small amounts may, by their chemical action, cause damage to structure or disturbance of function." (From Dorland, 27th ed)"

There is a main article on Toxicology in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology.  It includes "Factors that influence toxicity", "Classes of toxicity", and "Toxicology of metals".  The sidebar at the right leads to biographical, dictionary news, and Q&A entries.

The print edition of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia can be found in the Reference stacks of Lewis Library Information Desk, under Q121 .M3, and online, under AccessScience in our listings under the heading of Articles and Databases


Be specific in searching a particular toxin, poison, chemical, pesticide, element, or geographic site or incident.

Examples of outbreaks  or incidents might be: shigella, sarin gas, dioxin, DDT, mercury, Love Canal or Bhopal, India.