Distributed Block - View: Magazine: Latest Cover

cover of the July 23, 2016 issue

Eureka! Lab

A place for discovery 
Bethany Brookshire

Eureka! Lab

Scientists Say: Poisonous

It’s any substance that is toxic — meaning it can harm health

Eureka! Lab
poisonous mushroom

This beautiful mushroom’s colors are a sign to stay away. It produces a poison that will sicken people unless it is cooked very thoroughly. 

Ak ccm/Wikimedia Commons

Poisonous (adjective, “POY-suh-nuss”)  

In most uses, this word refers to something that can harm or kill an organism. But in biology, only some organisms that make a toxic substance are considered truly poisonous. To get that name, they must secrete the chemical passively. Then it just stays on or inside the organism until somebody — or something — eats it. Plants can be poisonous. So can animals that secrete toxins through their skin. But if an animal has to bite or sting to deliver its toxic chemical, scientists call it something different: venomous.

In a sentence

While a poison arrow frog is poisonous, and a rattlesnake is venomous, both are dangerous. 

poison vs venom

Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

poison  A substance that causes sickness or death to an organism.

poisonous  (In biology) An organism that secretes a toxic substance passively. Plants can be poisonous, as can animals that secrete toxins through their skin.

toxic    Poisonous or able to harm or kill cells, tissues or whole organisms. The measure of risk posed by such a poison is its toxicity.

toxin     A poison produced by living organisms, such as germs, bees, spiders, poison ivy and snakes.

venom    A poisonous secretion of an animal, such as a snake, spider or scorpion, usually transmitted by a bite or sting.

Readability Score: 
Sticky: 
0
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, July 12, 2016
class time
Keeping kids in school for a few extra hours could mean better reading comprehension — no matter how the teachers use the time. But those extra hours come with extra cost.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, July 11, 2016
plastic mask
As plastic floats in the ocean, it can acquire its own colony of microbes and algae. We call this ecosystem the plastisphere.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, July 6, 2016
gloves
Germs are everywhere. One teen has designed a way to keep them from sticking to a surgeon’s gloves.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, July 5, 2016
poison frog
It is safe to refer to any poison as toxic. But while all toxins are poisonous, most poisons are not toxins.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, June 29, 2016
cyanide
Cyanides are poisonous. But they are more than that. This group of compounds is used in everything from mining to capturing fish.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, June 22, 2016
termites
Inspired by a classroom experiment, a teen has built a way to lure troublesome termites to their death — using the power of ink.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, June 20, 2016
wormhole
Scientists have predicted the presence of tunnels in space that connect two points in space and time. They are named for the shape they resemble.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, June 13, 2016
exocytosis
For a cell to remove something large from inside itself, it turns to a process called exocytosis.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, June 6, 2016
shark
When a solution becomes more acidic, it’s acidifying. And that’s not always a good thing.
By Bethany Brookshire 7:00am, May 30, 2016
endocytosis diagram
Small molecules can go into a cell through receptors or even just dissolve into it. But something big? That requires endocytosis.
Subscribe to RSS - Eureka! Lab

From the SSP Newsroom

Science News

Loading...

Science News for Students

Loading...

Eureka! Lab

Loading...