14 November, 2010

Poisons, Doses, and Ammunition Against Anti-Vaxers

This has been sitting in my open tabs for far too long.  Kept meaning to blog it, but what with House and the Wheel of Time and the onset of the winter writing season, I never got round to it.  It's a wonderful post on Neurodynamics entitled Toxicology: the poison and the dose

Those of you enamored of mystery novels and/or crime shows may have heard the little phrase, "The poison is the dose."  All too true - and now you'll have an actual scientist's perspective on it.  And you'll also have a very useful question to ask:
What’s it do?

That’s the first thing I think when I hear someone say something is a toxin. There is no single “toxic” reaction out there. Every toxicologically active chemical entity out there has its own mechanism, its own target. Some are more recoverable than others, some have pretty dire consequences; some we have antidotes for, some not. Some exert an effect quickly, while others can take their time. They can target any physiological system, or multiples.  Cause death, permanent injury, reversible injury, minimal harm, or anywhere in the middle. Locally, regionally, systemically. There are many, many examples of different actions that a given compound could do. The severity of the effects is important to evaluate.

Lob that one at the next idiot who starts going on about toxins.  There are other questions answered there that are equally grenade-like and shall prove quite useful when people babble about all of those awful toxins making all of us sick although they're only found in vanishingly small quantities, if at all, in our vaccines.

And then remind them of that old crime show/mystery novel truism: the poison is the dose.  Not just any old dose will do.


george.w said...

I don't understand why they're SO worried about an infinitesimal, one-time dose of a thoroughly tested preservative in a vaccine, but blithely unconcerned about ubiquitous BPA, Atrazine, or even hfcs...

Silver Fox said...

The use of the word "toxic" for everything from trace elements to personalities grew out of the New Age movement(s) in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. At some point, "toxic" became mainstream, and it's now considerably overused. The poison is in the dose. If water or salt can kill you at the right dose, are they also toxic?