BOS 4201 Unit II Assessment

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Toxicity can manifest in numerous ways. Describe at least four of these ways.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length.

Toxicity is generally defined as any adverse effect of some normal biology that is casually linked to exposure to a chemical agent. It can occur in many different ways and range from immediate death to subtle changes over days, months, or years. Additionally, toxicity is determined by the physical and chemical properties, the duration of exposure, the route of exposure, and the health of the individual. Inhalation, ingestion, and absorption are the routes of exposure. Furthermore, toxicity and the adverse effects are manifested after the organism has exhausted its protective mechanisms (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014).

There are multiple ways that toxicity can manifest itself. They are enzyme inhibition, enzyme induction or activation, cytotoxicity, inflammation, covalent binding, receptor interaction, necrosis, lethal synthesis, oxidative injury/lipid peroxidation, induction of apoptosis, immune-mediated hypersensitivity reactions, immunosuppression, neoplasia, and mutagenesis. Although there are fourteen different ways for toxicity to manifest itself only four will be discussed further. These four include necrosis, immunosuppression, lipid peroxidation, and lethal synthesis.

Necrosis as defined in course text book Principles and Practice of Toxicology in Public Health is the sum of all morphological changes’ indicative of unprogrammed cell death caused by the progressive degradative action of enzymes (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014).

Immunosuppression as defined in course text book Principles and Practice of Toxicology in Public Health is a state in which the body’s ability to respond to antigenic stimulation is diminished through infection, congenial defect, or drug therapy (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014).

Lipid peroxidation can be described generally as a process under which oxidants such as free radicals or nonradical species attack lipids containing carbon-carbon double bond(s), especially polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that involve hydrogen abstraction from a carbon, with oxygen insertion resulting in lipid peroxyl radicals and hydroperoxides (Ayala, Muñoz, & Argüelles, 2014).

Lethal Synthesis as defined by Oxford reference is any process by which a highly toxic compound is synthesized in an organism from a nontoxic precursor. The classic example is the formation of fluorocitrate when e.g. kidney homogenates are incubated with fluoroacetate (2017).


Ayala, A., Muñoz, M., & Argüelles, S. “Lipid Peroxidation: Production, Metabolism, and Signaling

Mechanisms of Malondialdehyde and 4-Hydroxy-2-Nonenal,” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2014, Article ID 360438, 31 pages, 2014. Retrieved from

Richards, I. S., & Bourgeois, M. M. (2014). Principles and practice of toxicology in public health (2nd ed.).

Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Lethal synthesis – Oxford Reference. (2017, June 16). Retrieved from

Identify the factors that modify toxicity. Based on these factors, explain how exposure to the same concentration and duration of a toxin will affect a healthy, middle-aged male differently than a middle-aged female who smokes and has a suppressed immune system. 

Your response should be at least 300 words in length.

Toxicity can generally be defined as any adverse effect of some aspect of normal biology that is casually linked to exposure to a chemical agent ((Richards & Bourgeois, 2014, p. 51). All chemicals have the potential ability to produce toxicity and may result in death or subtle changes that can affect a person later on in life. There are several factors such as age, gender, disease, lifestyle and diet, and genetics that can play a significant part in how toxicity can affect someone.


            As we grow our bodies go through several developmental and metabolic changes. A fetus’s cells, unlike an adult, are rapidly differentiating, dividing and migrating during organogenesis. This massive influx of cells leaves a fetus vulnerable to toxic insult and an increase in mistakes to occur during DNA replication. Whereas an elderly person will have a more adverse effect from exposure to neurological, hepatic, and renal toxicants due to a decrease in organ function. (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014)


            Male’s and female’s general makeup differentiate from each other in the fact that males and females have different metabolisms, body fat compositions, body water, and hormones. These with many toxicants having similarities to hormones may have a different result with male compared to a female. (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014)


            As humans, we know that our health always plays an impact on our total well-being. Our health can play a dramatic effect with toxicants as well. Individuals dealing with improper kidney or liver functions have an increased risk of toxic damages due to a decrease in biotransformation and excretion capability. (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014)

Lifestyle and Diet

            Our choices on what, when, and where we put things into our bodies also play a part in how our bodies will function with such toxicants. The number of alveolar macrophages in increased massively in smokers compared to non-smokers. Also, a person’s residence may have a negative result on how the body will handle toxicants. A person living in the heart of Los Angeles compared to a person living in the mountains of Colorado are going to handle various pollutants differently throughout their lives. (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014)


            A person’s genetic makeup will always play a result in how someone’s body handles toxicants.  A person’s genetics plays a role in how we handle foods, sounds, and smells. The same way our body handles other issues means that we will handle toxicants differently from one person to the other. (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014)

            Based on the question and the information about each modifying factor the healthy middle-aged male will more than likely handle exposure to the same concentration and duration of a toxin far better than the middle-aged female, who smokes and has a suppressed immune system. The reason the woman would have more trouble is that she has several modifying factors in how her body will respond to the toxicity. With the female being a smoker, she has already jeopardized her body based upon her lifestyle choices, and secondly, with her suppressed immune system her body will have a hard time combating pollutants. The middle-aged male on the other does not have any diseases or harmful lifestyle choices based on the given scenario.


Richards, I. S., & Bourgeois, M. M. (2014). Principles and practice of toxicology in public health (2nd ed.).

Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Identify the five broad categories of toxins, and then provide an example of each that is found in the region where you live.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length

The term toxin is reserved for any toxicant of biological origin. Toxins fall into several broad categories based on the organism that produces them, they are Bacteria (endotoxins, exotoxins, and enterotoxins), Fungi (mycotoxins), Algae (phycotoxins), Plants (phytotoxins), and Animals (zootoxins). Below will be examples of where each of these toxins can be found in the southeastern region of the United States or Alabama.

Bacteria endotoxins originate from gram-negative bacteria, they are technically the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria. Their purified derivatives are called lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Endotoxins and LPS are present in the oral and nasal cavities of humans and animals. They can also be found universally in occupational and environmental settings on surfaces of animals, plants, and soil (Radon, 2006). In the southeastern region of the United States or Alabama an example of this toxin is salmonella and the environment where this toxin can be found is on a farm that raises chickens or pigs as well as farms that have green houses or grow cotton.

Mycotoxins are produced by mold that infests peanuts, corn, wheat, rice, tree nuts, dairy products, and other agricultural plants (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014). Mold growth can occur prior to the harvest, post-harvest, during storage, or on/in the food itself often under warm, damp and humid conditions. Due to this toxin being found in a variety of foods it can be found any practically in location in the world. There have been several times when food has been found moldy before purchase at a super market or after being stored for an extended time in one’s home.

Phycotoxins or cyanobacteria toxins are primitive photosynthetic organisms with about a dozen toxic species found on land, in freshwater and in the oceans (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014). Green algae is commonly found in brackish freshwater bodies such as lakes and ponds in the southeastern United States. This toxin can be responsible for contact dermatitis known as swimmer’s itch. Additionally, it has been responsible for deaths of large populations of wild and domestic animals. If unintentionally consumed by humans they too can experience severe levels of toxicity.

Phytotoxins are toxins produced by plants that produces harmful substances that can produce injuries and sometimes prove fatal if ingested (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014). Two of the more common plant toxins found in Alabama and the southeastern United States are Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. They contain a highly irritating oil that can cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Zootoxins are toxins produced by animals such as snakes, spiders, and scorpions. All three of these animals are commonly found in southeastern United States. In Alabama the most common of the three are snakes and spiders. The southern black widow spider can be found regularly and it produces a venom referred to as neurotoxin. The bite of a black widow spider is minimally painful and may even go unnoticed until symptoms occur (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014).


Radon K. (2006). The two sides of the “endotoxin coin”. Occupational and environmental medicine, 63(1),

73–10. doi:10.1136/oem.2004.017616. Retrieved from

Richards, I. S., & Bourgeois, M. M. (2014). Principles and practice of toxicology in public health (2nd ed.).

Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Discuss the beneficial applications of toxins, and provide an example of a specific toxin and its application.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length.

Toxins are poisonous substances produced by living things, usually for the purpose of defense or predation (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014). Under normal circumstances living things develop these poisonous substances to protect themselves from other living things either destroying or eating them. Scientists have been studying poisonous substances for a very long time in an effort to either prevent further harm are to understand the effects that harmful substance has on others organisms. There are several examples that show that even though a specific toxin may be very harmful at a higher dosage that at a lower dose it can have beneficial effects. Although it seems like a dangerous idea to study these substances that can be harmful if used or ingested at high doses, it is essential to do so because they may also have the potential to eliminate symptoms of another harmful substance, relieve pain, or cure a disease, or at a minimum spice up a bland meal.

On example that shows us that poisons at higher doses can be harmful but beneficial at lower levels is the wintergreen plant that produces salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is used in plenty of different products in today’s age such as creams for one’s skin, it is used in face peels, and acne preventive medications due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it is even used as an active ingredient in aspirin. Although, it is used in all of these different products if used at a high enough dose it can have negative impacts on the user’s skin having the potential to cause chemical burns.

Another example of a plant that has the potential to be dangerous if used at high doses is nutmeg. Nutmeg comes from the seeds of the evergreen tropical tree Myristica fragrans Houtt and it is mainly used as a spice but can act as a psychoactive when ingested at high doses (Richards & Bourgeois, 2014). Knowing this information doesn’t dissuade most individuals from having either whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg in their pantry as a go to ingredient in the seasonal pumpkin pie.


Richards, I. S., & Bourgeois, M. M. (2014). Principles and practice of toxicology in public health (2nd ed.).

Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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