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Drug & Forensic Toxicology

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Division of drug and forensic toxicology deals with all chemicals that affect human body and environment. Generally, all chemicals have toxic influence on human body to varying degrees according to dosage, mode of action, means of administration, etc. Highly toxic chemicals are called toxicants, which affect human health and environment. Deadly poisons and violent toxins are distinguished from general medical supplies. However, it is difficult to define toxicants scientifically because medicine can give bad effects to human when it is given too much. All chemicals display different toxic effects by substance property, physiological action, dosage, mode of administration and individual difference. Therefore, all chemicals such as medicine, food, toxicant and narcotics must be dealt as toxicants in forensic science area.

Division of drug and forensic toxicology is divided into three sections and narcotic analysis team.

Forensic toxicology team:

1. General forensic toxicology section: This section deals with medicine, toxic substances, and natural poison, pesticides identification in the postmortem biological samples and natural toxin and harmful substances in illegal drugs and unsanitary foods. In Job adoption, drug examination is carried out for the urine of job seekers.

2. Food and drug analysis section: This section identifies harmful substances in the food, alcohol contents in the alcoholic beverage, food adulteration, food additives, food coloring, dietary supplements, food related toxins and toxicants, contaminated substances in illegal food, eating food and processed food.

3. Analytical toxicology section: This section analyzes toxicants such as cyanide and pesticides in biological samples and the evidences gathered from crime scenes. Residual pesticides and heavy metals in agricultural products and medicinal herbs are determined in this section too. Aphrodisiac drugs and sex hormone (testosterone) analysis in urine of the sexual offenders under chemical castration by Ministry of Justice��s institute of forensic psychiatry are also tested.

Narcotic analysis team:

1. Hair analysis section: Hair is an important evidence for drug abuse, because drugs are accumulated in hair. Estimation of drug exhibition is possible as hair grows regularly 0.7~1.4 cm per month, Thus, hair evidences have become a big part of narcotic analysis. Since methamphetamine was analyzed in hair in 1980, analysis items have increased continuously. Cannabinoids (since 2009), opiates, cocaine and benzodiazepines have been added to the analysis items, one after another. In 2012, propofol glucuronide, a metabolite of narcotic anesthetic, was analyzed in hair for the first time in the world. Now over 100 drugs can be identified in hair.

2. Narcotic analysis section: Blood, urine, and seized drug samples are analyzed in this section. Urine analysis is carried by immunoassay as a preliminary test. Positive urine samples are confirmed by GC/MS or LC/MS/MS for the narcotics. As new psychotic substances (NPS) are becoming a new narcotic source of drug abusers, NPS identification is carried by Q-TOF MS and NMR. Methamphetamine impurity test for the identification of manufacturer under international cooperation is also a part of this section. Hallucinogenic gas such as butane, propane, ethyl acetate and toluene is analyzed in the urine and blood samples of inhalers.

The division of drug and forensic toxicology performs the analysis processes using high-tech instruments such as gas chromatography (GC/NPD, GC/FID and GC/MS), Qtrap-LC/MS/MS system, ultra performance liquid chromatography-Quadrupole Time of Flight (UPLC-QTOF-MS), Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectrometer (ICP), UV-Visible spectrophotometer, Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), etc.

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