Most people may know of or would have at least heard of cyanide albeit with a negative connotation. A potentially deadly chemical, cyanide pill is most commonly known as the suicide pill or by some equally notorious names such as the lethal pill, kill-pill or the death pill.
What is Cyanide?
However, chemically speaking, cyanide is a chemical compound that is a triple bond between carbon and nitrogen atoms. This carbon-nitrogen combination is combined with metals and other elements to form any number of compounds or salts for different useful purposes without which our daily life would not be as it is.
Some facts about cyanide:
- It is one of the most common chemicals in the world.
- It can exist in various forms such as a solid, a liquid, or as an invisible, colorless (and maybe even odorless) gas.
- Cyanides are produced by certain bacteria, fungi, and algae and are found in a number of plants although in very small amounts.
- Cyanide is contained in 110 different plant families.
- It is present in cigarette smoke and in smoke from burning plastics.
- Common paints and adhesives also contain cyanide in varying proportions.
- It is used is numerous industries, including pharmaceuticals, paper, plastics, gold mining, textiles, dyes, etc.,
- It is also used as a pesticide in ships and buildings.
- In one of its combination (ferrocyanides), it is also used in the food industry.
- Has a lot of medical / clinical research and applications e.g., it may be used in emergency medical situations to produce a rapid decrease in blood pressure.
- It is also being illegally used to capture live fish seafood markets or for aquariums.
- It prevents the cells of the body from getting oxygen causing the cells to die.
- Cyanide gas is the most toxic form of cyanide.
- It is more harmful to the heart and brain than other body organs.
- Cyanide in gaseous form is most dangerous in enclosed places and much less harmful outdoors as it evaporates and disperses quickly in open spaces.
- People might get exposed to cyanide by breathing air, eating food, drinking water or by touching soil containing cyanide.
- Cyanide may enter air, water or soil either as a natural process or as a result of industrial activities.
- Over the course of history, there have been numerous cases of deliberate human poisoning and suicides using cyanide.