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Term of the Month

Defining Criminal Justice Research

Welcome to NIJ’s Term of the Month. Each month we are featuring a term from our scientific research portfolios informing significant American justice system issues and solutions.

June 2023 - Forensic Toxicology

The field of forensic toxicology combines the principles of analytical and clinical chemistry with pharmacology to aid in medicolegal investigations of drug use, poisoning, and death. Forensic toxicologists determine which non-endogenous (non-naturally occurring) toxic or intoxicating substances are present, in what concentrations, and the probable effect of those chemicals on the individual.

Forensic toxicology includes human performance toxicology (antemortem) and postmortem toxicology. Forensic toxicologists analyze fluid samples, which include blood, urine, and oral fluid, as well as tissue samples such as hair, nails, and organ tissues.

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Date Created: January 28, 2021