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Key Terms

This resource provides explanations of the key concepts encountered when exploring Toxins – the ‘basics’ that every student should understand.

Page links to Key Term definitions

  1. Toxins
  2. Poisons
  3. Chemicals
  4. Molecules
  5. Compounds
  6. Mixtures
  7. Dose
  8. Lethal dose 50 (LD50)
  9. Mouse bioassay
  10. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)
  11. Neurotoxin
  12. Pleurobranchaea maculata
  13. Food webs
  14. Bioaccumulation

List of Key Term definitions

  1. Toxins key term.

    1. Toxins

    Toxins are poisons. Some scientists define toxins more specifically as poisonous substances that are produced within living cells or organisms (also known as biotoxins).

  2. Poisons key term.

    2. Poisons

    Substances that, when introduced into or absorbed by a living organism, causes death, injury or impairment.

  3. Chemicals key term.

    3. Chemicals

    Anything made of matter is a chemical. They can be in any form, for example, liquid, solid or gas.

  4. Molecules key term.

    4. Molecules

    All matter is made up of atoms. A molecule is a group of two or more atoms bonded together.

  5. Compounds key term.

    5. Compounds

    A chemical compound is a pure substance made up of two or more distinct elements chemically combined. Water is made by combining the elements hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) to become H2O.

  6. Mixtures key term.

    6. Mixtures

    A combination of two or more substances in which each substance retains its identity – that is, they can be separated out.

  7. Dose key term.

    7. Dose

    The amount of a substance that comes into contact with a living organism or some part of a living organism.

  8. Lethal dose 50 (LD50) key term.

    8. Lethal dose 50 (LD50)

    Lethal dose 50 can also be written as LD50. This is the dose required to kill half the members of a specific animal population. It is used to indicate toxicity.

  9. Mouse bioassay key term.

    9. Mouse bioassay

    A technique for determining the power of a drug or toxin by measuring its effects on mice.

  10. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) key term.

    10. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)

    A technique that can be used to detect and give the amount of specific chemicals in a substance.

  11. Neurotoxin key term.

    11. Neurotoxin

    Various toxins affect organisms differently. Neurotoxins attack the nervous system. Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin.

  12. Pleurobranchaea maculata key term.

    12. Pleurobranchaea maculata

    The scientific name for the grey side-gilled sea slug. Some of these contain the deadly toxin tetrodotoxin.

  13. Food webs key term.

    13. Food webs

    The feeding connections among organisms – producers, consumers and decomposers.

  14. Bioaccumulation key term.

    14. Bioaccumulation

    Bioaccumulation refers to the accumulation of substances such as toxins or other organic chemicals in an organism.

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