A History of Toxicology

A Small Dose of Toxicology History

  • An Introduction to the History of Toxicology

The history of toxicology is rich with personalities, political intrigue, warfare, regulation, and, most importantly, lessons learned. It begins with early humans’ need for survival, which required an understanding the potential hazards of the plants and animals they encountered. Early experimentation with plants was driven by an interest in curing various ailments of body and spirit.

Milestones of Toxicology: an Interactive Poster

The Milestones of Toxicology poster was created by Steven G. Gilbert and  Toni Hayes in 2006 for the 45th Society of Toxicology meeting. The poster is interactive: click on a square to get more information. To open or download the clickable Milestones poster click HERE; to learn more about toxicology history on Toxipedia go HERE.

Translations are also available:


Chapter Outline

History of Toxicology: Lessons Learned
Introduction: Antiquity
Early Poisons
Toxicological Sciences
Recognizing Hazards
History of Toxicology Resources


History Resources from Toxipedia

History of Toxicology Chapter

PowerPoint Presentation

More Information

General References

  • Gallo, M. A. "History and Scope of Toxicology". Casarett & Doull's Toxicology The Basic Science of Poisons. 7th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
  • Hayes, A. N. and S. G. Gilbert. "Historical milestones and discoveries that shaped the toxicology sciences". Molecular, Clinical and Environmental Toxicology Volume 1: Molecular Toxicology Series: Experientia Supplementum 2009.
  • Stirling, D. A. "History of toxicology and allied sciences: a bibliographic review and guide to suggested readings". Int J Toxicol 2006; 25, 4 (2006):261-8.
  • Watson, K. D., Wexler P., and S. Holmgren. "Highlights in the History of Toxicology". Information Resources in Toxicology 4th Ed. New York: Academic Press, 2009.
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