Dose makes the poison - Research Paper Example

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Dose Makes the Poison Over the past century, humans have introduced several chemical substances into the environment which are used for various purposes and functions. Some have been designed as structural materials, some are the waste from industrial and agricultural processes and others have been designed to heal the sick or kill the insects and pests. Most of these chemicals are indeed toxic but they come with several benefits and are mainly employed in such a way that the benefits outweigh the toxic effects. But it should be remembered that everything around us is made of chemicals from the air we breathe in to the salt we add to our food. Our body itself is a combination of chemical elements and compounds. It is vital to divide the chemicals present in our environment into the good ones and the harmful ones. Moreover, also focus on how the toxic and deadly effects of the chemicals can be avoided is also of importance.
The story of Strong Poison by Dorothy S. Layers revolves around a mystery case of the murder of Philip Boyes by arsenic poisoning. Harriet Vane is accused of the murder of her fiancé, as she is a crime novelist and knows an awful lot about the novel and all the evidence points in her direction. However, Lord Peter Wimsey is convinced of her innocence and struggles to convince the jury as well. The book discusses a great deal about the arsenic poisoning and the symptoms the victim suffers from, bringing the horrifying adverse effects of a toxic chemical under highlight.
It is vital to understand what is toxic in our environment and can lead to adverse effects. A toxic substance is a substance that can be poisonous or cause health effects. Toxicity of a substance is not measured on the basis of its severity of effects; it can strike a single cell, a group of cells, an organ or the whole body. It is basically measured to the degree to which it is poisonous to biological organisms including humans. Chemicals toxicity is also dependent on the dose of the chemical, route of exposure, the duration and the number of incidents of exposure, and individual’s susceptibility. In 1500s, Philippus Aureolus brought forward the argument that a chemical can be entirely harmless or even advantageous at low concentrations but the same chemical can turn into toxic at higher levels. He stated, “All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy” (Trautmann).
Indeed many chemicals which are beneficial at low concentrations even essential for human health can lead to toxic effects at higher concentrations. Vitamin D is an important nutrient which is crucial for bone strength and promotes good health. However, at higher concentrations it can lead to kidney stones, high blood pressure, and deafness and even can be fatal. Hence, dose is defined as the amount of a substance that is ingested, inhaled or absorbed through skin and the collective amounts form the exposure of the individual to a particular chemical substance (Trautmann). However, it is also important to consider the chronic effects of long term exposure to low concentrations of a chemical, along with the acute effects of higher doses.
Arsenic poisoning is one of the highly toxic substances that can lead to adverse effects culminating in human death. The death of Mr. Vane in the novel and the movie was shown as a gradual death and rather not dramatic. However, the symptoms were shown quite similar to the real ones. Arsenic is difficult to detect in the surroundings because of its colorless and odorless nature. Arsenic is a natural semi-metallic chemical which is present normally in ground water all over the world and it is also used in the production of glass, wood treatment, smelting and some pesticide production. Research has showed that 130 million people could be victims of slow arsenic poisoning through arsenic-contaminated drinking water (Paddock). Similarly several other chemicals are also present in our surroundings which are not detected and are unconsciously ingested on a daily basis, leading to chronic toxic effects of the chemical. Lead is another such example which can be ingested in small amounts on a daily basis through contaminated water or from the peeling lead paints in homes by the children. This leads to cumulative effects of stunted growth and mental retardation in children (Trautmann).
The most appropriate method of prevention from the negative effects of toxic chemicals is to limit and prevent exposure. This can be achieved by regulating the maximum allowable concentrations of different contaminants in food, air and water. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act emphasizes of the same issue and the Environmental Protection Agency works under the same Act by deciding the maximum contaminant levels of several chemicals in public water supplies (Trautmann). People who are working with toxic substances should be aware of the toxic hazards and should adapt the occupational preventive measures to minimize the toxic effects. Protective clothing, respiratory ventilations, proper face masks and protective barrier methods can be used to reduce the toxic effects. The issue of arsenic poisoning put forward in the novel, highlight the fatal outcomes of toxic chemicals which have become a source of turmoil rather than beneficial for the society. Harmful chemicals in our environment can be avoided by protection and proper awareness about the toxic effects.
Mills, Hayley, Hywel Bennett, Britt Ekland, George Sanders, Per Oscarsson, and Agatha Christie. Endless Night. S.l.: Thorn EMI Video, 1972.
Paddock, Mike. "What is Arsenic Poisoning? What is Arsenicosis?" MedicalNewsToday 18 February 2012. Online.
Sayers, Dorothy L. Strong Poison. Harper Collins Publisher,1995. Print.
Trautmann, Nancy. "The dose makes the poison- or does it?" January 2005. Action Bioscience: American Institute of Biological Science. . Read More
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