The Forensic Toxicology Division performs analysis on medicines, poisons, adulterated foods, narcotics and hallucinogenic and/or harmful chemicals in various biological samples and on-site evidence related to identification of the cause of death and examination on regulated substances. In addition, it is operating an international credibility accreditation business as an internationally accredited proficiency management and standard substance manufacturing organization and coping with the rapidly changing crime environment through R&D such as narcotics profiling, etc.
Analysis and interpretation of medicines in biological samples and medicines, identification and analysis of illicit harmful substances and harmful heavy metals in health functional foods (herbs, etc.), herbal medicines and cosmetics
Analysis and interpretation of toxic substances such as pesticides (e.g., insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides, etc.) and cyanides from biological samples, lost articles and foods and beverages at crime sites
Food standard and specification tests, natural toxicant analysis, identification of illicit harmful ingredients from adulterated foods and agricultural products
Narcotics analysis and research in urine, blood, tissue and hair
Analysis and research on narcotics, psychotropic medicines, marijuana and new narcotics in confiscated narcotic drugs
Analysis and research on narcotics such as estimation of purity, presumption of origin/synthesis method and relatedness analysis
Analysis and research on hallucinogenic and/or harmful chemicals in adhesives, thinners, paints, fuels and abuser samples
The Forensic Toxicology Division consists of a Forensic Toxicology Lab, Food & Drug Research Lab, Poisonous Substance Research Lab, Hair Precise Research Lab, and Narcotics Research Lab.
The Forensic Toxicology Lab is responsible for analysis and research on identification and quantification tests of poisonous drugs for identification of the cause of death for autopsy biological samples including blood and stomach contents collected from various death cases, such as drug poisoning, misuse, medical and medicine accidents, suicide, homicide, etc., forensic toxicology review on drug interactions, medicine redistribution after death, etc., confirmation of components of medicines, illicit medicines, natural products (herbal medicines, herbal medicine extracts), quasi-drugs and cosmetics, presence of harmful substances, and harmfulness of substances. In addition, the laboratory built a database for poisonous drugs in biological samples by LC/MS/MS and conducts research on new analysis techniques using advanced analytical equipment such as Q-TOFMS, ICP/MS, etc., and forensic toxicological research such as toxicity and metabolism of poisonous drugs.
The Food & Drug Research Lab conducts tests required for analysis including identification and quantification tests for substances harmful to the human body when ingested (poisons, heavy metals, etc.) in all food-related samples such as food ingredients (e.g., adulterated foods, processed foods, natural foods, agricultural, livestock and fishery products), health functional foods, favorite foods, GM foods, food additives and food utensils, containers, and packaging, specification tests regulated under the food code, and identification and quantification tests for specific constituents. The laboratory carries out authenticity tests for the falsification and modulation of alcoholic beverages (whiskey, brandy, etc.), edible oils (sesame oil, etc.), honey, red pepper powder and various health functional foods, detection and quantification tests for environmental pollutants, residual antibiotics and preservatives in food ingredients such as agricultural, livestock and fishery products, detection tests for natural toxins such as blowfish poison, aflatoxin, and grayanotoxin, which may be present in natural foods, and detection and quantification tests for GM foods such as corn and soybeans present in processed foods and food ingredients using various high-tech analysis equipment such as GC, HPLC, GC/MS, LC/MS/MS, ICP, real time-PCR, and IR/MS and the latest analysis methods. Moreover, it performs continuous research on determination of the origin of food ingredients.
The Poisonous Substance Research Lab performs the development of analysis methods and analysis services on various types of toxicants and toxins by using high-tech analysis equipment including GC, GC/MS, HPLC, FT/IR, QTRAP-LC/MS, and UPLC-QTOF/MS. For suicide and homicide cases, the laboratory carries out analysis for detection of cyanides, pesticides, solvents and rodenticides as well as toxins including Aconitum carmichaeli Debeaux, mushrooms, Nerium oleander, and Rhododendron brachycarpum not only in autopsy biological samples but also in dead fishes, birds, livestock, and crop damage. In addition, its service area has been expanding into the clinical toxicology field including analysis services closely related to public safety such as examination on the use of drugs through analysis of biological samples (urine, blood, etc.) of victims of drug-facilitated crimes (e.g., sexual assault, robbery, etc.), monitoring of testosterone of persons under drug treatment for sexual impulse, evaluation of the use of offsetting drugs, and evaluation of treatment drugs for persons who completed the treatment as well as government employees drug screening.
In the field of forensic science, hair was mainly used for the identification of individuals and heavy metal poisoning, but since the 1980s, it has been actively used for drug investigations along with urine as important evidence of drug use. Unlike urine, hair can identify long-term drug use, and drug use timing can also be estimated through segmentation analysis, which accounts for the largest portion of services in the narcotics field. In 1993, the laboratory established the methamphetamine detection method in hair for the first time in South Korea. Since that time, the laboratory established analytical methods for various drugs and has been implementing analyses. In 2009, it began to analyze marijuana, and since then, has been performing analysis on opium, cocaine, and benzodiazepines in sequence, and developed analytical methods for propofol, an anesthetic, in hair in 2012 for the first time in the world. In 2013, the laboratory established a method for analyzing synthetic hemp, known as a herbal drug and a method for analyzing GHB in hair, which is used for abuse and rape, in 2014. As a result of continuous development of analysis methods, about 100 kinds of drugs can currently be analyzed in hair.
The Narcotics Research Lab analyzes drugs regulated by law on the management of narcotics such as methamphetamine, marijuana, morphine, and
cocaine in biological samples such as urine and blood of narcotics users and confiscated goods, mainly requested by police and prosecutors.
In the case of urine, whether or not narcotics were used is determined by the identification experiments with GC/MS and LC/MS/MS after
a preliminary experiment by immunoassay. For identification experiments of psychotropic medicines such as methamphetamine, narcotics such as heroin,
etc., and marijuana, precipitation reaction, color reaction, TLC, and GC/MS are used for analysis. To identify the chemical structure of newly
emerging narcotic drugs, Q-TOF/MS and NMR are used. Additionally, the laboratory analyzes hallucinogenic organic solvents such as toluene contained
in bond, cork, and varnish, methyl alcohol, and ethyl acetate and hallucinogenic gases such as butane, which is a component of portable butane gas,
and propane. Moreover, it determines inhalation of these substances by analyzing the urine and blood collected from the person inhaling them.
Moreover, the Narcotics Research Lab has contributed to rapid investigation and protection of human rights of suspects by constructing a one-step notification system for the preliminary experiment result on narcotics as part of scientific investigation support activities for the police and developing a rapid analysis processing method that notifies the urine result of the drug user within 2 hours to the police via text messages. Particularly, it performs profiling for methamphetamine with a high abuse rate in order to figure out the coidentity among samples and manufacturing methods by analyzing the impurities mixed in the evidence requested.
A patient died after drinking a mixture of herbal medicine, herbal medicine powder (called cantharides powder) and herbal medicine extract for the purpose of infertility treatment, which was prepared at an oriental medicine clinic in Wonju-si, Gangwon-do. As a result of analysis, cantharidin was detected in the stomach contents and blood. Cantharidin is a major ingredient of cantharides and is known to cause death after causing abdominal pain, dysentery, hematemesis, hematuria, and decreased blood pressure when used in excess, with a lethal dose of 10mg.
A suspect sent threatening mail and a text message stating that he would put poison in Coca-Cola bottles, if Coca-Cola Korea Bottling Co., Ltd. did not give him 2 billion KRW. However, there was no response, and he injected poison into Coca-Cola bottles and distributed them to supermarkets in Jeonnam. One person had abnormal symptoms after ingestion. A herbicide, paraquat, was detected in 7 of the collected Coca-Cola bottles.
Six residents living in a village fainted after eating fried rice in a Village Hall, complaining of abdominal pain, and four victims became unconscious.
As a result of analysis, an insecticide, methomyl, was detected in the fried rice consumed by the victims.
Aconitum carmichaeli Debeaux has been widely used as an metabolism hyperfunction agent due to its cardiotonic function by supplementing one’s energy. However, it is a poisonous herbal drug containing deadly poisonous alkaloids such as aconitine, mesaconitine and hypaconitine, and 7 cases were requested for analysis in 2012.
강원도 원주시 한의원에서 불임치료목적으로 지은 한약, 한약가루약(일명 반묘가루) 및 한약추출액을 혼합하여 마신 직후 환자가 사망하였으며, 감정결과 위 내용물 및 혈액에서 칸타리 딘(cantharidin)이 검출됨. 칸타리딘은 반묘의 주성분으로 치사량이 10mg이고 과량복용시 복통, 이질, 토혈, 혈뇨, 혈압 저하 등에 이어 사망한다고 알려져 있음