Toxicology vs Chemistry
What does Forensic Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry do?
- Forensic Toxicology: is the study of adverse effects of drugs and chemicals on biological systems.
- Forensic Chemistry: analyze non-biological trace evidence found at crime scenes in order to identify unknown materials and match samples to known substances.
What are the primary duties of each?
- Using state-of-the-art chemical and biochemical instrumentation
- Evaluating determinants or contributory factors in the cause and manner of death
- Performing human-performance forensic toxicology, determining the absence or presence of drugs and chemicals in the blood, hair, tissue, breath, etc...
Forensic Chemistry- Primarily concerned with searching for and examining contact trace material associated with crimes. This material can include:
- tire marks
- fibers from clothing
- paint and glass fragments
- blood and other body fluids
- and flammable substances used to start fires
How have each been used to understand a crime?
Forensic Chemistry: The Night Stalker- A Southern California serial killer dubbed the Night Stalker broke into victims' houses as they slept and attacked, murdering 13 and assaulting numerous others. One night an observant teenager noticed a suspicious car driving through his neighborhood on the night of august 42, 1985. The teenager wrote down the license of the car and told the police. It just so happened that the Night Stalker's latest attack was in the same area. The car was abandoned when the police found it, but police found a key piece of evidence left by the Night Stalker, his fingerprints. Investigators quickly matched the print to 25-year-old Richard Ramirez and plastered his image in the media. Within a week, Ramirez was recognized and captured by local citizens. He was sentenced to death.
How are they different?
Forensic Chemistry: To identify and characterize the evidence as part of the larger process of solving a crime. Deals with the evidence collected from a crime scene. Evidence may include hair samples, paint chips, glass fragments, or blood stains.