Toxins vs. Toxicants

Mark Korchinski bc962 at FreeNet.Carleton.CA
Wed Feb 14 09:51:56 EST 1996

Interesting question. In the quest to stop the massacre of the English
languange here are the definitions as per Stedman's Medical Dictionary
24th Ed.:

toxin: a noxious of poisonous substance that is formed or elaborated either
as an integral part of the cell or tissue, as an extracellular product
(exotoxin), or as a combination of the two, during the metabolism and
growth of certain microorganisms, as well as some of the higher plant and
animal species; in general, t.'s are relatively complex antigenic
molecules, and the chemical compositions are usually not precisely known.

toxicant: 1. Poisonous. 2. Any poisonous agent, specifically an alcoholic
or other poison, causing symptoms of what is popularly called intoxication.

"ENV.TOX" (ENVTOX at MSU.EDU) writes:
> Greetings and Salutations:
> I apologize for interrupting the current thread on animal models (which is very
> interesting, and certainly one of the $64.00 questions toxicologists must come
> to terms with), but I hope many of you will abide this breif detour and respond
> my query.
> I would like to solicit the feedback of the group regarding a minor topic I
> about which I am curious. It is whether subscribers to this newsgroup in gen-
> eral interpret (as I do) the terms  "toxin" and "toxicant" differently, or
> whether they consider them to be interchangeable.  I was taught that "toxin"
> refers to a substance of exclusively biological origin which elicits a
> toxic response (e.g. endotoxins or snake venom), whereas "toxicant" refers
> simply to a substance which elicits a toxic response.  I have seen the term
> "toxin" used to denote both of the foregoing in papers published by some very
> notable figures in public health/risk assessment, and so I am wondering what
> the prevailing view is.
> Please respond to me personally, so as not to clog up the list.
> If sufficient numbers express interest in their votes, I will post the results
> to the list.
> Thanks for your time...
> Best Regards,
> B. L. Aaron, MS

<<< I never let my schooling get in the way of my education>>>
    Mark Twain

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