Toxins vs. Toxicants

John Budny jabudny at earthlink.net
Wed Feb 14 13:27:03 EST 1996

bc962 at FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Mark Korchinski) wrote:
>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

In A TEXTBOOK OF MODERN TOXICOLOGY  by Ernest Hodgson and Patricia E. 
Levi (pages 16 to19) there is listed the following topics: Mycotoxins, 
Microbial Toxins, Plant Toxins and Animal Toxins which indicate that 
toxins are of biologic origin.  One could argue that that ethanol is a 
toxin because it is of biologic origin; however, I feel the argument 
would be weak.

John A. Budny

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