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  • Cyanide can be incredibly deadly at very small doses.

  • This is why it has been used throughout history as a poison in warfare, genocide, and murder.

  • Cyanide is a naturally occurring chemical found in some foods.

  • In fact, at some point in your life, you almost certainly have ingested cyanide.

  • So why aren't you dead?

  • Let's find out.

  • In nature cyanide is most commonly found in the seeds of plants.

  • Some of the more common foods that have cyanide in them are: cassava, lima beans, and almonds.

  • You have probably eaten at least one of these foodsif not all of themso why aren't

  • you dead, or at least incredibly sick?

  • The answer has to do with the amount of cyanide in each of the plants.

  • However, even relatively small doses can be harmful in some cases.

  • Cyanide can be found as a colorless gas such as hydrogen cyanide, or in crystalline form

  • like sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide.

  • Regardless of whether cyanide is a gas or solid, it is still deady.

  • However, when cyanide is in its gaseous state it is faster acting due to it having direct

  • access to your cardiovascular system.

  • People have died from breathing in cyanide, consuming the poison, and even from it leaching

  • through their skin and into the bloodstream.

  • People who work in industrial factories, or jobs that require them to be in close proximity

  • to the poison, are obviously more susceptible to dying from cyanide.

  • However, even if you live in the countryside away from any factories, you could still be

  • at risk.

  • The most common source of cyanide poisoning for people outside of industrial factories

  • that use the chemical is from smoking cigarettes.

  • Cigarettes contain trace amounts of cyanide, however, when someone lights up a cigarette

  • they are releasing the poison into the air.

  • So if someone is chain smoking, maybe stay a few steps away to reduce your own exposure

  • to the poison they are exhaling.

  • It is important to note again that cyanide in its gaseous state is more deadly than in

  • its solid form.

  • However, since the gas is relatively light, it tends to rise and disperse quickly.

  • So how does cyanide kill you?

  • To understand this question you'll have to think back to your high school biology

  • class.

  • If you remember nothing else from the class you probably remember the mitochondria is

  • thepowerhouse of the cell.”

  • Cyanide disrupts your mitochondrial powerhouses and causes you to die from lack of energy.

  • At a basic level your mitochondria takes the sugar from the food you eat and the oxygen

  • from the air you breathe, and reassembles them into energy, carbon dioxide, and water.

  • This is called cellular respiration.

  • The most important part of this process is the production of energy.

  • Without it you literally cannot survive.

  • When cyanide enters the body it diffuses into the cells and starts connecting itself to

  • the proteins in the mitochondria that strip the electrons from oxygen molecules to make

  • energy.

  • Once the cyanide is bound to the protein, your mitochondria can no longer function as

  • it should.

  • You can think of it as the cyanide becoming an inhibitor for the mitochondria.

  • The cyanide keeps the mitochondria from being able to take the electrons off the oxygen

  • molecules and using them to produce the energy your cells and body needs to function.

  • It should come as no surprise that organs that use a lot of energysuch as the heart

  • and brainare affected first by cyanide.

  • Your heart cells require a lot of energy to continuously pump the blood around your body.

  • Your brain and nerve cells require massive amounts of energy to control all life functions

  • happening within you.

  • Regardless of which cell the cyanide gets into, the result is the same.

  • The poison will shut down the energy making process of the mitochondria, and cause the

  • cell to die due to lack of energy.

  • Once enough critical cells in the body die this way the end result is always the same.

  • The person dies.

  • So, how much cyanide is enough to kill you?

  • There are a few factors that determine the amount, but it is never very much, since cyanide

  • is incredibly toxic.

  • As mentioned before, inhaling cyanide is much more dangerous than ingesting it through food

  • or water.

  • And although touching cyanide poses less of a risk, even skin contact with the poison

  • can kill you.

  • As a very rough estimate around half a gram of ingested cyanide is enough to kill a 160

  • pound adult.

  • Obviously depending on the person the lethal dosage could be a little more or a little

  • less, but either way this is not a lot of cyanide when compared to the size of an adult

  • human.

  • If a lethal dose is inhaled or ingested, the poison immediately starts shutting down the

  • energy generators of the body, and death occurs within minutes or even seconds.

  • As would be expected when energy production in the body stops, the symptoms of cyanide

  • poisoning include: dizziness, headaches, nausea, and weakness.

  • Eventually these symptoms develop into loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, slow

  • heart rate, and respiratory failure.

  • At this point the next step is death.

  • However, if caught early enough some people do survive cyanide poisoning.

  • Unfortunately, the lasting side effects of the poison can be the development of Parkinson's

  • disease, loss of muscle control, blindness, and other neurological disorders.

  • Basically if poisoned by cyanide, the end result is never pleasant.

  • You may be wondering what to do in the precious moments after you realize you've been poisoned

  • by cyanide.

  • What steps can you take to save your life?

  • The first thing to do is get out of whatever area the source of the cyanide is coming from.

  • Now if you have ingested the cyanide, or some nefarious assassin has poisoned you, this

  • is impossible to do.

  • But if you notice you're being exposed to cyanide, you need to immediately leave the

  • area.

  • In its gaseous form cyanide rises, so if you are in a room you should get as close to the

  • floor as possible and leave any enclosed space that might have cyanide in the air.

  • Once out of the immediate area you need to get naked.

  • That's right, you should remove all clothing that could have been contaminated by the cyanide

  • because it could still enter your body through your skin.

  • Once the clothing has been removed it should be disposed of using safety equipment.

  • After you have left the area containing cyanide, and removed your clothing, you should wash

  • every part of your body thoroughly with soap and water.

  • If you believe you've ingested the cyanide you need to stop it from being absorbed by

  • your gastrointestinal tract as soon as possible.

  • Medical personnel will most likely give you activated charcoal, which will bind to the

  • cyanide and slow the absorption process.

  • Once all immediate danger is taken care of you'll be given a cyanide antidote.

  • This will most likely contain amyl nitrite, sodium nitrate, and sodium thiosulfate.

  • All of these chemicals have a stronger attraction for cyanide than the binding site of oxygen

  • in the mitochondria.

  • Therefore, they bind to the cyanide before it can attach itself to the oxygen binding

  • protein that your mitochondria use to generate energy.

  • Another chemical that is used to neutralize the cyanide is cobalt.

  • Once the cyanide is bound to one of these antidote chemicals it is excreted from the

  • body in your urine.

  • So it's clear that death by cyanide would be a bad way to go.

  • Cyanide has been used throughout history to kill enemies and commit atrocities.

  • The use of cyanide as a weapon dates all the way back to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

  • Napoleon III had his troops dip their bayonets in cyanide, so that when it pierced the skin

  • of an enemy they would be poisoned.

  • Cyanide was even used as a poison as far back as the Roman Empire.

  • Emperor Nero would give his enemies cherry laurel water that contained cyanide.

  • Cyanide was used in both world wars as well.

  • In World War I it was used by French and Austrian troops as poison gas during trench warfare.

  • In World War II Nazi Germany used cyanide in their concentration camps.

  • The deadly gas was known as Zyklon B and killed millions of people during the war.

  • There are also reports of cyanide being used in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980's where

  • hydrogen cyanide gas was used to kill Kurdish people in Northern Iraq.

  • Cyanide has been used by all sorts of deranged people for committing atrocities.

  • In 1978 Reverend Jim Jones convinced over 900 people to drink punch laced with cyanide

  • in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre.

  • The leader of the cult died by a gunshot wound to the head instead of from the poison, but

  • the cyanide was just as deadly as the bullet.

  • Cyanide is also an ongoing threat that has been employed by terrorist organizations to

  • wreak havoc around the world.

  • In 1982 a series of deaths due to cyanide poisoning occurred in Chicago.

  • Someone had tampered with Tylenol bottles and replaced the medication in the capsules

  • with potassium cyanide.

  • Seven people died from the cyanide laced capsules during The Chicago Tylenol Murders.

  • The authorities never charged or convicted a suspect in the poisonings.

  • Another example of cyanide related terrorism happened following the sarin gas attack by

  • Aum Shinrikyo in the Japanese subway system in 1995.

  • The organization planned on committing another act of terrorism using cyanide this time.

  • They placed an agent containing cyanide in the bathrooms of the subway system.

  • It was estimated that if released there would have been enough cyanide gas to kill 10,000

  • people.

  • Clearly cyanide is deadly and has been used for terrible purposes.

  • But this brings us back to the fact that it is naturally occurring in foods that we eat.

  • Most people know that almonds contain the poison, yet we don't hear about cyanide

  • related deaths due to almond consumption.

  • So how many almonds do you have to eat before they become poisonous?

  • The answer might be less than you think.

  • There are two main varieties of almonds.

  • There are sweet almonds, which most of us enjoy eating, and bitter almonds, which are

  • not consumed as often.

  • A 160 pound person would need to eat around 50 ounces of sweet almonds in order to be

  • killed by the amount of cyanide that is contained within each one.

  • This means someone would have to consume just over 1,100 almonds in a single sitting in

  • order to ingest enough cyanide to kill them.

  • The person would also have to refrain from urinating during this time so that the cyanide

  • would stay in their system.

  • Therefore, death by cyanide from eating sweet almonds is very unlikely.

  • But what about bitter almonds?

  • This is where things become a little more surprising.

  • Bitter almonds contain about 50 times more cyanide than sweet almonds.

  • This means that around 50 bitter almonds would contain enough cyanide to kill you.

  • Bitter almonds are not eaten often, because as their name suggests, they are bitter.

  • But if someone had a craving for them, and ate 50 kernels of the cyanide-containing nut,

  • it is likely they would die from cyanide poisoning.

  • Cyanide is a deadly chemical.

  • It is dangerous because it is highly toxic in small amounts.

  • It is practically odorless when in its gaseous form, and can also poison you from being ingested

  • or through your skin.

  • Cyanide disrupts the energy making process done by the mitochondria in your cells.

  • This causes you to die from a lack of energy that is needed by your vital organs.

  • Just make sure next time you eat a bag of almonds that they are sweet instead of bitter.

  • Now check outMost Deadly Elements On Earth.”

  • Or watchWeapons Even The Military Made Illegal.”

Cyanide can be incredibly deadly at very small doses.

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How Does Cyanide Poisoning Actually Work

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/25
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