biological half-lifemedical dictionary

<biochemistry, biology> This is the time required for one-half of the total amount of a particular substance in a biological system to be consumed or broken down by biological processes when the rate of removal is approximately exponential.

Toxic chemicals with a long biological half-life (such as some pesticides) will tend to accumulate in the body and are, therefore, more likely to be harmful. A substance with a short biological half-life may still accumulate if a portion of it it becomes tightly bound to bone or other tissues, even if most of it is quickly cleared from the body.

(21 Mar 1998)