Poison and Toxin are two different things. However, there are many similarities among the two. In common non-technical terms, there is no damage in using the two words interchangeably. Poison has a wide and general meaning, but toxin is a little more specific.
What is Poison?
Poison is any chemical that is harmful to health. A poison could be either synthetic or naturally available. It is sometimes difficult to label a chemical or a substance as a poison. Some chemicals are poisonous to certain species. For example, Herbicides are poisonous to weeds but not to crops. Pesticides are poisonous to insects and pests. Some of these substances could be poisonous to human beings and other animals depending on the concentration and levels of exposure. Some chemicals turn in to poisons when used inappropriately. There could be incidents where a combination of usually harmful chemicals produces a poison when mixed together. It is extremely important that people follow instructions precisely when it comes to handling poisons. There are rules and regulations when it comes to poison transport, production and various other processes related with their applications. As mentioned earlier, poisons cover a wide range of chemicals. Pesticides, herbicides, house-hold chemicals, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, animal/snake/spider bites, certain plant/fungal extracts, and microbial secretions belong to the large group of poisons.
What is Toxin?
Toxin is a harmful substance that is produced by living things. Toxins are produced by bacteria, fungi, insects, marine species, animals, reptiles such as snakes and scorpions, and also some plants. Why do living things produce toxins? There is no simple answer. These toxins produced by a variety of living beings serve different purposes. Bacterial toxins are produced to be pathogenic. Fungi produce toxins to eliminate competition for food by other microbes. Animals produce toxins to defend themselves from attacks of other animals, to attack another animal etc. Plants produce toxins to repel pests and etc. Toxins may have different mechanisms of action. A toxin can alter a metabolic reaction, activate a harmful chemical reaction, increase or decrease the concentration of crucial chemicals inside the body and disturb health.
Current studies have found that, upon slight changes, some toxins could be used in medicinal applications. One such example is nicotine. Toxicity varies from chemical to chemical. Some could be deadly. Toxins are not bad chemicals. They are a part of the nature. Accidental encounters with toxins can occur any time. It is our responsibility to be aware of these toxins and their effects. If the public is properly informed, many incidents could be prevented.
What is the difference between Poison and Toxin?
• A poison is any chemical which is harmful to health. It could be either natural or synthetic (bacteria toxin, venom, benzene, carbon monoxide, tar).
• A toxin is a harmful chemical produced by an organism; therefore, they are always natural.
• A poison could have a simple chemical structure or a complex chemical structure. A toxin is generally having a complex chemical structure because it is a natural product.