Archive for the 'toxicology' Category

Bath Salts? It’s really a drug and it’s legal!

By now most people have heard of Synthetic Cannabinoids, i.e. K-2, Spice, etc. The newest craze is Bath Salts – watch Dr. Oz report on this.



ExperTox Opens New Lab

Have you ever wondered how a true forensic lab runs? If you are in the Houston area, we would like to invite you to visit us at our Open House on June 16, 2011. See more information at the link below.

Open House Invite

Our state of the art laboratory was designed by President Loretta Anderson and RGR Partnership, LTD and constructed by Tribble and Associates Contractors. The new lab space has over 3100 square feet with the option to utilize an additional 5000 square feet of off-site storage as needed.

The lab was designed with optimal work flow, employee convenience and with environmental sensitivity in mind.  There are separate departments for accessioning, specimen preparation, screening, EIA, ELISA, Heavy Metals ICP-MS, GC/MC, LC/MS, extraction hoods and analyzing (test data). In addition, there is a dedicated department for Certifying Scientist for reporting results.


The Dangers of Energy Drinks and Alcohol

When you consume a combination of Uppers and Downers, do they cancel each other out?

The answer is No. Since the latest fad drink, Four Loko, hit the scene, red flags have been raised with law enforcement and physicians around the country. Why are they worried about this drink?

Mixing caffeine with alcohol is nothing new. Party goers and bar patrons have been combining these two substances ever since energy drinks hit the market. But it wasn’t until recently that they were both sold in one colorful can.

The “Four” in Four Loko came from the main ingredients: alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana. These drinks also include carbonated water, sugar and natural and artificial flavoring.

Taurine is an organic acid. Despite being present in many energy foods, it has not been proven to be energy giving.

Guarana is an effective stimulant that contains twice the caffeine found in coffee beans. A review published by the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association states that the amounts of taurine and guarana found in popular energy drinks are far below the amounts expected to deliver therapeutic benefits or unfavorable actions. But like most things in excess, too much guarana may contribute (alone or in combination with caffeine and taurine) to onset of seizures in some people.

Caffeine is a stimulant. It increases blood pressure and heart rate. Caffeine can cause headaches, jitteriness, agitation, stomach problems and abnormal breathing. It’s the equivalent of an adrenaline rush.

On the other hand, alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol slows down the brain’s functioning and impairs one’s ability to walk, talk and think clearly. Combined, the stimulant and the depressant do not cancel each other out. “Some people have the idea that the caffeine will negate the effect of alcohol, but that’s simply not true,” said Glenn Whelan, assistant professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Pharmacy.

According to Dr. Anthony Cardell, a cardiologist at Centre Medical and Surgical Associates, consuming one can (of Four Loko) equals about three glasses of wine or three to four bottles of beer. The caffeine content is about 135 milligrams, which is the equivalent of three cola sodas, one and a half Red Bulls or one cup of Starbucks coffee.

The main problem is that caffeine appears to override the natural sleepiness that occurs when someone drinks alcohol. Caffeine also postpones that feeling of drunkenness, so those who mix alcohol and caffeine in a drink are likely to keep drinking beyond their normal limits.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure how the body processes the mixture of caffeine and alcohol because the combination (based on the quantity found in alcoholic energy drinks) is too dangerous to test on humans in scientific experiments.

Researchers from the University of Florida conducted a study in 2008 where they interviewed college-age adults leaving bars. They found that bar patrons who reported drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks (6.5 percent of study participants) were three times more likely to be intoxicated than the drinkers who consumed alcohol only. The average breath-alcohol concentration reading for those who mixed alcohol and energy drinks, was 0.109. Consumers of energy drink cocktails also left bars later at night, drank for longer periods of time, ingested more grams of ethanol and were four times more likely to express an intention to drive within an hour than patrons who drank alcohol only.

Like the conclusion in most of the articles written on this subject, the fact is, you should always drink responsibly. If you choose to drink, know what you are consuming. Know the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine. On the home page of the Four Loko website, their is information on how to drink responsibly and several links to responsible drinking resources.


  • Clauson, KA; Shields, KM; McQueen, CE; Persad, N. “Safety issues associated with commercially available energy drinks”. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association : JAPhA 48 (3): e55–63
  • Johannes, Laura (March 2, 2010). “Can a Caffeine-Packed Plant Give a Boost?”. The Wall Street Journal: p. D3
  • Iyadurai SJ, Chung SS (May 2007). “New-onset seizures in adults: possible association with consumption of popular energy drinks”. Epilepsy Behav 10 (3): 504–8
  • “Dicey alcohol-caffeine mix not fully understood” Article from: The Washington Post Article date: December 5, 2010 Author: Linda Shrieves Copyright

Possible Addition to the K2 Legislation in Texas

This was on the news on KHOU Channel 11 in Houston, TX this week.

Comprehensive K2 Legislation in TX

Read more about the new bill being brought to the Texas Senate this week. It is the most comprehensive bill in the country!

September is Cancer Awareness Month

As September is Cancer awareness month, Expertox is proud to recognize Eric Helmreich, a 22 year survivor of AML, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and current Lab Technician of Expertox forensic toxicology.  Eric, who received his diagnosis when he was just 2 years old, was the first ontologous bone marrow transplant – meaning he donated bone marrow to himself – at Texas Children’s Hospital, a client of Expertox. 

After winning his battle with cancer, Eric’s family, as well as a small group of other families who endured the drama of childhood cancer, formed the Houston area Candlelighters association,, to provide practical and emotional support to other families battling childhood cancer.  Eric, as he has gotten older, became a valuable member of Candlelighters assisting with many of their fundraising activities and moral support ventures to benefit local families affected by childhood cancer. 

The next event is a weekend camp where entire families affected by a child’s diagnosis come to relax and escape.  Candlelighters covers all the camp expenses for the familes thanks to generous donations at fundraising events such as their annual Golf Tournament at Wildcat Golf Course coming this April 2011.  To assist Eric in his ventures of helping local families please donate to Candlelighters at and/or register to be a blood, organ, and/or marrow donor through the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center at  Nothing can be done to prevent childhood cancer, but much can be done to support those affected.

Common Medications Can Poison My Pet?

Did you know that things you consider to be safe can be very dangerous to your pet? According to the VPI Pet Insurance company, poisonings cost dog and cat owner policy holders almost $7 million over a four-year period between 2005 and 2009.

The number one cause of poisoning was accidental ingestion of medications, human and pet. Wow! The very thing that we take to make us feel better – can hurt our pet. The truth is, with just a little bit of care, this can be prevented. Put all medications up and out of reach from pets (yes, just as you would from little children), keep all lids on the medications. Last year alone, the ASPCA handled over 45,000 calls regarding prescription and over the counter drugs that pets had ingested!

According to the ASPCA, the most common human medications that cause poisoning are the following:

  2. Antidepressants
  3. Acetaminophen
  4. Methylphenidate (for ADHD)
  5. Fluorouracil (for Cancer)
  6. Isoniazid (for Tuberculosis)
  7. Pseudoephedrine
  8. Antidiabetics
  9. Vitamin D derivatives

10.  Baclofen (muscle relaxant)

If you think that your dog or cat has been poisoned, contact the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

One Source…Numerous Options…Differences That Matter!

ExperTox® is a recognized forensic toxicology laboratory, combining advanced technology and science with a human heart.

We use our scientific expertise to provide our customers answers to their substance abuse, use and exposure questions.

We focus our personal character on supporting, caring for and understanding what our clients are going through as they contemplate and proceed through the testing process.

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