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Toxipedia was launched in June 2006 and has steadily grown, now offering more than a thousand pages of information on toxic chemicals, ethical considerations, laws and regulation, the history of toxicology, green chemistry, and much more. 

Our goal is to provide scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture so that the public has the information needed to make sound choices that protect both human and environmental health.

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Lessons Learned: Looking Back to Go Forward

#23: Mercury: The Tragedy of Minamata Disease

On May 1, 1956, a doctor in Japan reported an "epidemic of an unknown disease of the central nervous system," marking the official discovery of Minamata disease.

In the late 1950s Minamata Bay, Japan became contaminated with mercury from a nearby factory manufacturing the chemical acetaldehyde (Chisso Corporation's chemical waste pipe). The mercury was biotransformed by bacteria in the water into methylmercury, or organic mercury, that bioaccumulated and biomagnified in the muscle of fish. First, local cats that ate the fish began to stagger about and die. Then, the local population of people that depended on fish were affected, particularly developing fetuses and children. Over two thousand people died, and thousands more experienced crippling injuries.  

We learned that the solution to pollution is not dilution: mercury dumped into the bay concentrated and returned with tragic consequences. We also learned that the placenta is not a barrier to environmental contaminants and that the fetus is exquisitely sensitive to mercury. Unfortunately we learned these lessons again during the 1970s in Iraq, when people consumed seed grain that had been treated with a mercury-based fungicide.

Learn more:

Milestones of Toxicology Poster Translated into Japanese!

We are pleased to announce the 12th translation of our Milestones of Toxicology poster! We gratefully acknowledge translator Shihyi Hong. Click here to download the poster!

Milestones of Toxicology のポスターが日本語に訳されました。ダウンロードはこちらのリンクをご参考下さい:Japanese Translation.

Japanese Abstract


毒性の科学の基盤を築いた歴史的節目と発見 

スティーヴンG.ギルバート1 アントワネット・ヘイズ

1神経毒性学神経障害研究所 2ノースイースタン大学 

人 間は長年にわたって、植物や動物、鉱山から得た害を及ぼす毒性と、病を治す薬の知識を経験から分別し社会の土台をつくり上げてきた。近代毒性学の基盤は歴 史的な契機や偶然な発見と粗削りな実験から築かれたと言っても過言ではない。毒性の科学は古くから数々の教訓を経て社会全体を形作ってきた。このポスター は古代から現代に至るまで毒性学が学問として辿ってきた成長過程を考察する。毒物の使用が文明にどう影響を与えてきたか、を重要な事件や節目に焦点を当 て、多岐にわたる関連性を紹介する。更に、毒性学がどのような教訓から学んだかを実例を挙げながら説明する。そして、毒性学、毒性学者と科学や他の学問- 宗教学、政治学、国家を含む-等とどう広い接点を持ってきたかを解説する。今では毒性学は専門の研究所や学者、研究員、学会から学会誌を設立し始め、そし て下位分野まで発展するようになり、科学的な学問として進化してきた。毒性学は独立した学問でいながら一つの学問領域に捉われることなく、化学、薬理学、 そして生理学等広範囲に渡る。このポスターを通して毒性学について新たな発見と理解を深められるよう望んでいる。

Help Us Translate A Small Dose of Toxicology into Arabic!

Following the success of the 2nd edition of Steven Gilbert's A Small Dose of Toxicology, we are raising funds to produce an Arabic version! A Small Dose of Toxicology clearly presents the scientific basis around the adverse health effects of chemical exposures on humans and the environment. Our goal is to facilitate a basic understanding of the principles of toxicology in the Arab world and to help improve human health and well-being. Like the English edition, the Arabic edition will be made available as a free e-book.

Our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo has ended, but you can still donate through our website via PayPal!

Please support us! Click here!

A Small Dose of Toxicology Available in Chinese!

《生活中的毒理学》重点介绍了生活和工作中常见的化学物质,如酒精、咖啡因、尼古丁、杀虫剂、铅、汞、砷、金属、溶剂、持久性污染物、内分泌干扰 剂、动物 与植物毒素、家中的有毒化学物质以及辐射、纳米材料、空气污染对健康的影响。涵盖了有毒物质引发的不良反应、生物学特性(毒性作用)和易感人群以及与之相 关的监管标准、使用与接触这些物质的一些具体建议。特别介绍了化学品对神经系统、孕产与发育的毒性作用,以及癌症发生与化学品接触的关系。还生动地介绍了 毒理学基本原理、对化学品进行风险评估与管理的方法与原则、毒理学本身的历史起源与发展、毒理学涉及的伦理、法律与社会问题,以及每个人在日常生活中可能 遇到的毒理学问题,列出了可供深入学习与研究的网站与参考书。


The Chinese edition of A Small Dose of Toxicology: The Health Effects of Common Chemicals, by Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, was published by Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers in December, 2013! This edition was translated by a team of Chinese toxicologists led by Drs. Zhijun Zhou, Xinsheng Gu, Jianghong Liu, et al. according to the revised and expanded second English edition. Chinese translations of the popular Milestones of Toxicology poster are also available. For more information on the book and the posters, visit www.chinesesmalldose.org! To download your free copy of the 2nd edition in English, visit www.healthyworldpress.org!

New Resource: A Story of Health

Case-based learning has long been used in medical education. A Story of Health is an eBook that grounds the science of health in stories of fictional people, their families, and communities to enable readers to explore the risk factors for disease as well as how to prevent disease and promote health and resilience. Using the setting of a family reunion as a backdrop, the book explores how multiple environments influence our health across the lifespan.

The stories are accessible to an educated lay audience with more technical sections for scientists and medical professionals who can access free continuing education credits through the eBook. A Story of Health was developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR); the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE); the University of California, San Francisco, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (UCSF PEHSU); the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California EPA (OEHHA); and the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN).

"Scientists must make both science education and community outreach a much more central part of the scientific culture."

-Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-chief, Science magazine (Dec 3, 2010 editorial)