Forensic Toxicology

Forensic toxicology is the analysis of biological samples for the presence of toxins, including drugs. The toxicology report can provide key information as to the type of substances present in an individual and if the amount of those substances is consistent with a therapeutic dosage or is above a harmful level. These results can be used to make inferences when determining a substance's potential effect on an individual's death, illness, or mental or physical impairment. For example, the results of a blood analysis from a driver involved in a car accident can be used to determine if the individual was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Forensic toxicology is a continually advancing discipline. New drugs are always being developed, which creates a constant need to design novel approaches for their detection. To rise to this challenge, new instrumentation is being used and new detection methods are constantly in development.

NIJ seeks to fund research to:

  • Improve tools and technologies to better identify, collect, preserve and analyze biological samples to show the presence of drugs and other substances in a person.
  • Develop faster and more efficient analytical methods for toxicological samples.
  • Develop analytical methods for detecting emerging drugs in toxicological samples.
  • Improve the interpretation of toxicology data to aid in understanding the relationship between drug concentration and its effect on the human body.
  • Improve the understanding of the how drugs are redistributed throughout the body.
Date Modified: October 2, 2012