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Cyanide is a chemical that can be available in different forms. This is known as the most dangerous poison. Let us go through this article about cyanide poisoning, its impact, symptoms, are all cyanides dangerous or fatal, and more. This cyanide facts article is meant for details and spreading awareness. We do not entertain questions that associated to self-destruction or availability. Instead, this article is meant for making people aware of the dangers of this chemical. Also, in the process, we will study its different uses and how it affects a human body. So, stay with us if you really want to learn some interesting and possibly disturbing cyanide facts.
What is Cyanide?
Cyanide is a poisonous chemical that can be available in numerous forms. It is a chemical compound comprising of carbon and nitrogen called as the CN group or Cyano Group. Here, a carbon atom is combined by a nitrogen atom through a triple bond. These dangerous substances can also be a colourless, like hydrogen cyanide (HCN) or Cyanogen chloride (CNCl), or in crystal forms such as Sodium cyanide (NaCN) or Potassium cyanide (KCN). Organic cyanides are mostly known as nitriles.
Are all cyanide dangerous?
There are numerous substances that consists of Cyanide, but all of them are not poisonous or hazardous. Sodium Cyanide (NaCN), potassium cyanide (KCN), hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and Cyanogen chloride (CNCl) are lethal, but several compounds called nitriles also have cyanide group but are not as toxic. In pharmaceuticals cyanide in nitriles is used like citalopram (Celexa) and cimetidine (Tagamet). Let us tell you that nitriles are not very hazardous as they don’t emit the CN- ion, which is the group that performs like a metabolic poison.
How much amount of cyanide can be fatal or poisonous?
The amount of cyanide that is being taken in the body and the time period the person is in contact with it, depends on how deadly it will be or how much effect it will have on the body. So, it depends upon the route of exposure, the dose and the duration of exposure. Let us tell you that rather than consuming poison, inhaling is more dangerous or even fatal. When a person inhales 2,000 parts of hydrogen cyanide per million he or she can die within one minute and the weight of hydrogen cyanide is calculated as 1-3 mg/kg. It is said that if the less amount of cyanide is consumed in the body, then its effect will last after few hours or after few days but if it is consumed in excess in the body, its effect will occur right away. Less than 1 mg of cyanide is not very hazardous, but if its dose increases around 3 mg or more than that then a person can die at the same time.
Cyanide poisoning and its symptoms
Taking cyanide is also called cyanide poisoning. It can be little difficult to find cyanide poisoning in a person as its symptoms are same as some other symptoms of the normal disease. When cyanide is consumed or goes into the body of a person then cells of the body cannot use oxygen properly, and we all know that oxygen is necessary for cells to live.
– Breathing problem
– Vomiting, Dizziness
– Feeling like sleepy
– Lack of coordination
– Pain in the stomach
– Low Blood Pressure
– Lung damage
– Respiratory failure
– Coma etc.
Cyanide can even lead to a heart attack if it grows immediately in the body.
1. Cyanide is a chemical compound that can behave as a potent poison. It is very deadly and can exist in numerous forms.
2. Cyanide is mostly seen in gaseous and crystalline forms. In gaseous form, the most know form is Hydrogen Cyanide. Anyhow, Cyanogen Chloride is yet another famous gaseous form of the poison.
3. In crystalline format, it is mostly found as Potassium Cyanide and Sodium Cyanide. Also, cyanide can also be found in liquid form. Hydrogen Cyanide, which is commonly a colorless gas at higher temperatures takes the form of light blue liquid at room temperature.
4. Many people have reported cyanide to have the smell of bitter almond. However, if you don’t get to smell this odor, don’t be surprised because it may not always give off the smell and also everyone cannot sense the smell.
5. This poison generally happens in many sources in form of other chemicals which later gets metabolized into cyanide inside the body. For example, it can be seen in plants like almonds, lima beans and cassava. It can also be seen in seeds and pits of fruits like peaches, apples and apricots.
6. One of the most common sources of cyanide is cigarette smoke. Also, synthetic material like plastic, when burned, releases combustion products, one of which is cyanide.
7. Many algae, fungi and bacteria are also meant for generating cyanide as a byproduct of their metabolic activities.
8. Though cyanide is very poisonous, it is one of the common chemicals that is broadly used in different industries. For example, cyanide is necessary for the manufacturing of plastics, textiles and paper.
9. Not only that, chemicals which are generally used for photograph development are meant to have cyanide. One of the well known uses of cyanide is in the field of metallurgy where it is utilized for activities like gold extraction from ore, metal cleaning, electroplating etc.
10. It is very common thing to see the use of cyanide in buildings and ships for killing vermin and pests.
11. Cyanide discharge can occur through many ways. For example, one may be exposed to cyanide by breathing air polluted by cyanide. Anyhow, cyanide gas is hazardous only in closed areas. In open air, cyanide gas evaporates very fast, thus lessening the risks.
12. However, cyanide poisoning can occur by eating food, drinking water or may be even touching soil polluted by cyanide.
13. Cyanide is efficient in contaminating air, soil and water either through natural process or through industrial activities. It can pollute air only in its gaseous form – Hydrogen Cyanide, the most poisonous type of cyanide.
14. We know that cyanide is poisonous but how does it affect us? It all depends on which form of cyanide has entered our body, the method through which it has got in and the time for which it has been available in our body.
15. Once inside the body, cyanide stops the cells from using oxygen. As this continues, the cells start to die out slowly.
16. Of all body parts, cyanide attacks the heart and the brain most because these two organs use way more oxygen in comparison to any other organ in the body.
17. Our body is able to process cyanide in less quantity and make good use of it but in large doses, the capability of the body to process cyanide is fully overwhelmed. When in small quantities, the body tries to convert cyanide into thiocyanate which then passes out through our urine.
18. The body may also make use up the small amounts of cyanide and combine them with several other chemicals to produce Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 which aids in maintaining healthy RBCs or red blood cells and nerve cells.
19. Cyanide also has clinical and medical usage. Under emergency situations, it is often needed to get a fast decrease in blood pressure. This can be attained by using cyanide under clinical supervision.
20. Mild cyanide poisoning can be sensed by symptoms like weakness, restlessness, rapid heart rate, vomiting and nausea, rapid breathing, headache and dizziness. Though mild cyanide poisoning can cause to these symptoms, the presence of these symptoms do not surely hint about cyanide poisoning.
21. In case of poisoning by more quantities of cyanide, a person can show slow heart rate, much drop in blood pressure, consciousness loss, convulsions, lung injury and death due to respiratory failure. Anyhow, as before, just because these symptoms show up, it does not surely mean cyanide poisoning.
22. Did you know that there are a 110 variety of plant families on this planet that are sources of cyanide?
23. Did you know that eating 3.7 pounds of Lima Beans will give a lethal dose of cyanide in a fully grown adult?
24. Did you know that cyanide is really present in our DNA as a building block? It is available in our blood!
25. Cyanide is not at all teratogenic (i.e. disturbing fetus or embryo development) and neither is it carcinogenic to humans.
26. It can never move up the food chain. This means that, for example, if a fish gets cyanide poisoning, eating that fish will not cause cyanide poisoning in a human, a bear or any animal that eats that poisoned fish.
27. It is not that only microbes and plants generate cyanide. There are many insects that makesthis chemical too. For example, millipedes, moths, beetles, centipedes and even butterflies are meant for synthesizing and excreting cyanide as defensive move.
28. People usually confuse cyanide as a heavy metal. Some even think it is radioactive. Many believe that it can cause to cell mutation in humans. All these are just myths. They are all wrong.
29. Cyanide is a compound on its own. It is produced when carbon atoms and nitrogen atoms mix together and combine using triple bonds (a bit of chemistry that you can safely ignore if you want to). Actually this compound mixes with other metals and elements to for different other complex compounds. Those complex compounds can breakup to release cyanide.
30. It is true that cyanide in few forms is really toxic but it has a really bad reputation, which is worse than the toxicity. Thanks to many movies that created the myth that cyanide poisoning invariably kills. The truth is that cyanide poisoning can be treated and antidotes are available.
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