ANALYTICAL METHODS USED IN TOXICOLOGY
Toxicology laboratories use several methods to screen for poisons/drugs, since there is no single, accurate, inexpensive method for this purpose. Each method differs in cost, accu-racy, complexity, speed, and specificity. The actual equipment required depends on the size of the laboratory and the kind of testing done. A basic, ideal laboratory should have the following facilities/resources:
· Calibrated laboratory balances
· Bench top centrifuge
· Vortex mixer
· Water bath and heating block
· Butane gas burner
· Fume cupboard
· Refrigerator and Freezer
· pH metre
· Automatic/semi-automatic pipettes
· Low power polarising microscope
· Thin layer chromatography (TLC) plates
· UV spectrophotometer
· UV lamp
· Conway microdiffusion apparatus
· Porcelain spotting tile
· Modified Gutzeit apparatus.
· In addition, it is desirable to have the following specialised equipment, though they are quite expensive:
· High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)*
· Gas Chromatography (GC)
· Mass Spectrometry (MS)
· Facility for Radio Immuno Assay (RIA)
· Enzyme Mediated Immuno Assay Technique (EMIT)**.
· There should also be access to sophisticated systems of analysis which are normally beyond the scope of a toxicology laboratory, such as Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS), and Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA).
In a given case of poisoning it may be sufficient to know just the nature of poison (qualitative analysis), or there may be a need for identification as well as estimation of its concentration in the body (quantitative analysis).
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