8.12 Lethal Dose 50% (LD50)

2 min readmarch 12, 2023


Krish Gupta

AP Environmental Science ♻️

252 resources
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What is LD 50?

For the AP Environmental Science exam, you should know the basic concept of what LD50 is and how it is used to measure the relative toxicity of a substance. Specifically, you should know that LD50 stands for "Lethal Dose 50%" and it is the dose of a substance required to kill 50% of a population of test subjects, usually animals such as mice or rats. You should also know that the test is used to determine the relative toxicity of a substance, and it is commonly used in the fields of pharmacology and toxicology.
The test is usually conducted on a group of animals, and the substance in question is administered in increasing doses until a certain number of animals die. The dose at which 50% of the animals die is considered the LD50.
LD50 tests have been widely used for decades, but they have come under criticism for ethical and scientific reasons. Some critics argue that the test is inhumane because it involves killing animals, while others argue that the test is not always accurate or applicable to humans.
LD50 test is considered as a crude measure of toxicity and it is not always directly applicable to human. It is important to note that there are other ways to test toxicity and also some other aspect to consider like exposure, duration, route etc. New methodologies and alternatives are being developed constantly to replace the use of animals in such tests.

LD50 Issues

Additionally, it would be beneficial to understand the criticisms of LD50 tests, such as the fact that they are considered inhumane and not always accurate or applicable to humans. Moreover, you should be aware of the alternatives to LD50 tests that are being developed and used as a replacement for animal testing.

How to Interpret LD50

It's also important to note that LD50 test results are usually reported in milligrams of substance per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg). A lower LD50 value indicates a more toxic substance, while a higher LD50 value indicates a less toxic substance.

Exam Expectations

In the context of AP Environmental Science, you may encounter LD50 test results when discussing the effects of different pollutants or chemicals on the environment and living organisms. Understanding the concept of LD50 will help you to evaluate and analyze the potential toxicity of different substances, as well as the potential risks they may pose to the environment and human health.

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