Absorption. The movement of a chemical through gut, skin or lungs, into the bloodstream.
Abuse. Misuse or excessive use of a drug or other chemical substance to change mood or behaviour, or to avoid withdrawal syndrome.
Acute exposure. A single contact with a poison, lasting for seconds, minutes or hours, or several exposures over about a day or less.
Acute poisoning. The effects occurring within a few hours or at most a few days after a single dose of a chemical, or several exposures over about a day or less.
Acid. A chemical that combines with an alkali to form a salt, and turns blue litmus paper red.
Agitation. Restless movement of the body caused by distress, anxiety or by a problem in the brain.
Alkali. A substance that neutralizes an acid to form a salt, and turns pink litmus paper blue.
Allergy. Special sensitivity of a person to such things as plants and plant products, insect bites and animal hair.
Anaesthetic, general. A medication that produces unconsciousness.
Anaesthetic, local. A substance that causes loss of feeling, especially of pain, when put on the skin or injected.
Anaemia. A condition in which the concentration of the oxygen-carrying part of the blood, the haemoglobin, is below normal. The symptoms of severe anaemia may include tiredness, pale skin and, sometimes, difficulty in breathing.
Antidote. A chemical that lessens, or counteracts, the harmful effect of a poison.
Antiseptic. A liquid that stops some germs (bacteria) growing. Usually used to clean skin.
Antivenom. A medicine that acts against poison or venom from an animal such as a snake, fish, insect, or spider.
Asthma. A condition in which a person has attacks of difficult breathing. The person wheezes when breathing out, and may not be able to get enough air.
Bacterium (plural bacteria). A scientific name for a kind of microorganism, which may cause disease.
Blister. A bubble just under the surface of the skin filled with watery liquid; caused by burning or ubbing.
Blood vessel. A tube that carries blood inside the body. Vessels carrying blood away from the heart are called arteries. They have a pulse. Vessels that carry blood back to the heart are called veins. They do not have a pulse.
Caustic. Describes chemicals that burn or corrode living things.
Chronic exposure. A contact with a poison that lasts for many days, months or years. It may be continuous or broken by periods when there is no contact.
Chronic poisoning. The effects developing slowly as a result of continuous or repeated exposure over a long time to small doses of poison.
Concentrate. A product with a high concentration of chemicals, which is meant to be diluted for use. Many pesticides are sold as concentrates.
Concentration. The proportion of an ingredient in a mixture.
Contamination. The soiling of an object or substance by covering or mixing it with an unwanted substance. For example, the soiling of clothing or skin with insecticide.
Corrosive. Describes a substance that destroys living tissues on contact, by direct chemical action.
Dehydration. Excessive loss of water from the body.
Delirium. A state of mental confusion and semi-consciousness.
Dermatitis. Inflammation of the skin. May be caused by contact with a substance to which the skin is sensitive, such as cosmetics or certain plants.
Detergent. A chemical cleaning agent; sometimes used instead of soap.
Diabetes. A disease in which a person has too much sugar in the blood. Some diabetic people need special medicine such as insulin.
Dilute. To make a chemical solution less concentrated, usually by adding water. Pesticides are often sold as concentrates which have to be diluted by adding water.
Disinfectant. A cleaning agent that stops some germs (bacteria) growing.
Dissolve. The action of a solid when it is mixed with a liquid so that it disappears and forms a solution.
Distillate. A substance that is separated from a mixture, usually by heating the mixture to a particular temperature, and collecting the vapour as it cools and turns to liquid. The different components of the mixture will turn to vapour at different temperatures. Petroleum distillate is the mixture produced by this method from petroleum.
Dose. The amount of a chemical substance that gets into the body at one time.
Envenomation. The injection of venom into the body.
Epilepsy. A condition that causes fits. It is caused by problems in the brain.
Exposure. Contact with a chemical. The chemical may or may not enter the body.
Euphoria. A feeling of great elation.
Evaporate. To change from a liquid or solid to a vapour.
Stools; the waste from the body that passes out in a "bowel
Fertilizer. A product, usually added to soil, containing chemicals essential for plant growth.
Fever. A body temperature that is higher than normal.
First aid. The immediate treatment of poisoning or injury.
Fit. Jerking movements that a person cannot control; also called seizures or convulsions. A fit happens when there is a problem in the brain.
Germ. A very small, living organism; a microorganism or microbe; usually refers to microorganisms that cause sickness or disease if they get inside the body.
Gut. The tube that goes between the stomach and the anus. Also called the intestines.
Hallucination. Something a person sees, hears or smells which seems real to them, but which does not exist; caused by a disturbance in the brain.
Hallucinogenic. Producing hallucinations.
Hydrocarbon. One of a group of chemical compounds made up of only hydrogen and carbon, found naturally in petroleum.
Infection. A sickness caused by germs.
Inflammation. Tissue response to injury, characterized by local redness, swelling, pain and increased temperature.
Ingestion. Taking into the body. Usually used to mean taking in through the mouth and swallowing.
Inhalation. Breathing into the lungs through the mouth and nose.
Intramuscular injection. An injection into a muscle, usually in the arm or buttock.
Intravenous injection. An injection into a vein. A vein is a blood vessel that carries blood towards the heart.
Irritant. Describes chemicals that cause inflammation following immediate, prolonged or repeated contact with skin or other tissues.
Jaundice. A yellow colour in the eyes and skin caused by liver damage. The liver may be damaged by poison, by infection or by problems in the blood.
Kidney. One of two large bean-shaped organs in the lower back; they take waste out of the blood and make urine.
Lacerate. To tear the skin and muscle making a wound with jagged edges.
Laxative. A medicine that makes a person pass faeces. Laxatives are sometimes given to people who have swallowed poison to make the poison move through the gut, and leave the body quickly.
Liver. A large organ under the lower right ribs. Many poisons are changed into non-poisonous chemicals by the liver.
Local effect. An effect limited to the part of the body in contact with a chemical.
Lukewarm. Slightly warm; blood-warm; neither hot nor cold.
Lung oedema. A condition in which fluid fills the lungs and the patient is unable to breathe.
Medicine. A substance used to maintain, improve or restore health.
Metabolite. A chemical substance produced by chemical reactions inside the body.
Nausea. A feeling of a need to vomit.
Nervous system. The brain, spinal cord and nerves.
Oedema. Accumulation of fluid in tissue as a result of injury, inflammation or allergy.
Paralysis. Loss of movement in the muscles.
Pesticide. A chemical for killing or controlling pests such as insects or weeds.
Poison. Any substance that causes harm if it gets into the body.
Poisonous dose. A dose that causes poisoning.
Prescription. A written instruction from a doctor to the health professional who dispenses medicines, with details of the name of the medicine to be dispensed, the dose to be taken, how often it should be taken and other instructions as needed.
Protective clothing. Clothes that protect people from exposure to chemicals, usually by covering skin. Some protective clothing also includes masks to cover the mouth and nose to stop chemical being breathed in, or goggles to protect the eyes.
Pulse. The pulse is a wave of pressure in the arteries (blood vessels) each time the heart beats and pushes out blood. You can feel the pulse wherever an artery is close to the surface of the body.
Pupil. The black centre of the eye. It gets small in bright light and wide in the dark. Medicines and poisons can make the pupil change size.
Rectum. The last part of the gut.
Rehydration. Giving of water, or other liquids, to a person who has lost a lot of water in diarrhoea, vomit or sweat. Special rehydration drinks can be made with packets of oral rehydration salts.
Respirator. Equipment that prevents the wearer from breathing in dangerous chemicals. It may cover half the face, including the mouth and nose, or be full-faced, covering nose, mouth and eyes. It should only be used by people who have been trained to use and maintain it correctly.
Rodenticide. A poison for killing rodents, such as rats and mice.
Route. Way, path. Route of exposure is the way a poison gets into the body.
Saliva. Spittle; spit; the liquid inside the mouth.
Signs. Effects you can see, feel, hear or measure, such as fever, fast pulse, noisy breathing.
Solution. A solid stirred into a liquid so that you cannot see it, or two liquids mixed together to look like one.
Solvent. A liquid in which one or more chemical substances will dissolve (disappear when stirred) to form a solution. Many liquids are solvents: for example, water is a solvent for salt; kerosene and similar chemicals are solvents for some pesticides.
Spasm. A sudden, violent and painful, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.
Stethoscope. An instrument used to listen to noises inside the body, such as the noise made by the heart beating or by air moving in the lungs.
release. Describes a medicine that breaks down slowly
in the body, so that it takes many hours for all the medicine to pass
into the bloodstream. The medicine goes on working for many hours
Symptoms. Effects that a person feels or senses, such as nausea, pain, or thirst.
Systemic effects/systemic poisoning. Effects of a poison on the body as a whole. Systemic effects only occur if a poisonous substance is absorbed and distributed to sites distant from the entry point.
Target organ. The organs most affected by a particular poison.
Temperature. A measure of the heat of a person's body. You can find out a person's temperature by feeling the skin, or by using a thermometer.
Tetanus. Lockjaw; a disease caused when germs that live in the faeces of people or animals get into the body through a wound. Tetanus causes very stiff muscles and fits.
Thermometer. An instrument used to measure how hot, or cold, a person's body is.
Threshold dose. The smallest amount that causes poisoning.
Toxin. Poison made by a living creature, plant or microorganism.
Tremor. Trembling or quivering.
Ulcer. An open sore resulting from destruction of the skin or mucous membrane, such as caused by a corrosive chemical.
Unconsciousness. A state in which a person does not respond to outside stimuli such as noise or pain. It is caused by disturbance of, or damage to, part of the brain.
Vapour. The gas produced by a substance when it boils. Vapour is also present above the surface of a liquid at temperatures below its boiling-point.
Venom. The poisonous fluid produced by animals such as snakes, spiders and fish, and injected into prey by a bite or sting or through spines which puncture the skin.
Womb. The place inside a woman's belly where a baby grows when she is pregnant.