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The survival of earliest man depended on recognition and avoidance of those plants and animals which were posionous by contact or ingestion. But early man also found that poisonous plants and animals could be used to advantage in hunting and in killing his enemies. References to poisoned arrows are found in both the Old Testament and the early writings of Homer.
Man's earliest knowledge of toxicology came from direct observation and experiments on man. When, at a later period, experimentation on humans became unpopular and illegal, man experimented on animals such as the dog, cat, and rabbit to gain some insight into probable toxicological effects of substances on man. The transfer of data from one species to another requires extrapolation which, although the techniques have been greatly refined, always embodies a degree of uncertainty. Animal experimentation, however, with the application of arbitrary safety factors, remains the basis on which regulatory agencies reach a decision as to the safety of foods, drugs, cosmetics, pesticides and environmental contaminants. For practical purposes it has worked rather well.
aquatic toxicology, historical toxicology, toxicology, interspecies extrapolation
Consultant in toxicology and industrial hygiene, Pa.