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Forensic Toxicology


  1. Erkki Vuori MD, PhD, MSci Professor of Forensic Toxicology and Head,
  2. Ilkka Ojanperä PhD Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Director

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat109

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Vuori, E. and Ojanperä, I. 2009. Forensic Toxicology. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. University of Helsinki, Department of Forensic Medicine, Helsinki, Finland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Forensic toxicology is today much more than a part of investigating causes of death or identifying those driving under the influence of intoxicants. Society needs forensic toxicology services in a wider context in the name of safety and legal protection. The need is manifested in workplace testing, child welfare, drug-facilitated crime investigations and doping control. The discipline also has responsibility for investigating acts of terrorism and environmental pollution. Forensic toxicological analysis typically consists of an initial analysis and, in positive cases, a confirmatory analysis with mass spectrometry. The samples analyzed depend on the question to be answered. If being under the influence is to be ascertained, a blood sample is obligatory. A positive urine laboratory result reveals use or exposure to a foreign substance. Alternative samples include hair, which opens a large window for detecting drug use, and oral fluid, which is easy to collect noninvasively and without embarrassment. The results of forensic toxicological investigations, compiled in databases for later research, can also be used to reveal changing trends in illicit drug abuse and to improve drug safety in general. Because of the legal contexts in forensic toxicological investigations, legislation concerning sampling and civil rights must be strictly followed, and the same also applies to the chain of custody regarding the handling of samples.


  • Widmark's equation;
  • poisoning;
  • oral fluid;
  • hair testing;
  • initial analysis;
  • confirmatory analysis;
  • workplace drug testing;
  • drug-facilitated crimes;
  • doping;
  • fatal toxicity index;
  • drunk and drugged drivers;
  • pharmacogenetics