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Toxicology is the study of the relationship between dose and its effects
Alcohol is the most ruinous and accounts for more deaths
CHENNAI: For a society bombarded with various forms of poisons in the air, food and water, a set of precautions can go a long way in preventing complications, which sometimes result in death, P. Chandra Sekharan, president, Forensics International, Bangalore, said on Tuesday.
Delivering the ‘Dr. C.R. Krishnamurthi Endowment Lecture’ hosted by the Madras Science Foundation, Mr. Chandra Sekharan called for better toxicology awareness among the public, as anything in excess—whether it was alcohol, paracetamol tablets, coffee or even water—could have fatal consequences.
In a part-scientific, part-instructional talk, the forensic expert illustrated as an example the avoidable phenomenon of “well deaths” (persons entering unused wells die of asphyxia). This was because sedimentation of carbon-di-oxide, which is heavier than air, creates a critical depletion of oxygen with fatal results. According to Mr. Chandra Sekharan, the Centre could in one stroke eliminate carbon monoxide poisoning if it advocated natural gas as a replacement for coal gas. Taking a cue from some countries, a few States such as Delhi had initiated the phase-out of carbon monoxide.
Among all substances classified as poisons, alcohol was the most ruinous and accounted for more deaths owing to direct toxic action than all the other poisons put together, he said.
Methyl alcohol, often laced in illicit brew, was a regular killer during festival seasons, Mr. Chandra Sekharan said. The antidote for people developing bouts of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain on consuming hooch was to administer regular liquor (ethyl alcohol) in small doses at intervals. A strict no-no was taking in paracetamol along with alcohol.
Toxicology, in a nutshell, is the study of the relationship between dose and its effects.
However, new forensic thinking does not attach too much weightage to the dose as the single most important determinant of poisoning.
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