Saturday, 5 August 2017

Alternative uses for five of the most deadly poisons in the world.

This week the usually light-hearted Charles Fudgemuffin blog gets serious as we take a look at five of the most powerful toxins in the world, starting with a toxin which will be familiar to most people...

1) Botulinum

Don't try this at home!
Botulinum is the most powerful toxin known to man, and when delivered intravenously a dose of a mere 1.3-2.1 ng/Kg is estimated to be enough to kill a human! Based on a typical adult weighing 70 Kg, that means a dose as low as 0.000000119 grams could potentially kill someone!

Alternative use:

Most people will probably have heard of the most famous form of botulinum, which is marketed commercially as Botox.

You may find it strange that the most powerful poison known to man would be available commercially, but don't worry ... Botox isn't marketed at people looking to poison someone! Botulinum also has medical uses such as treating muscle spasms and overactive muscles, as well as being used for cosmetic purposes to reduce facial wrinkles.

Surprisingly, botulinum can also be used to treat excessive sweating. I have to say, being treated with one of the most powerful toxins known to man would only make me sweat more!

2) Cyanide

Condiment fans can relax, there's no cyanide in pepper
...only in salt!
There are many different cyanides, but some of the most commonly known cyanides include sodium cyanide, potassium cyanide and hydrogen cyanide, all of which are highly toxic.

Alternative use:

Alternative uses for cyanide include use in the mining of silver and gold, and it can also be used to create a blue colour on bronze sculptures.

Perhaps the most surprising use of cyanide, however, is as as a food additive! Seriously, I'm not making that up! Yes, you read that correctly! Cyanide is used as a food additive! Specifically, ferrocyanides are often used as a anti-caking agent in salt. Salt lovers can relax, however, as ferrocyanides do not decompose to lethal doses in the human body. Phew!

3) Strychnine

No official studies have been carried out to determine the toxicity of strychnine on humans, which is unsurprising really, as I doubt they would get many volunteers! Any known information has therefore been derived from cases of strychnine poisoning, both unintentional and deliberate.

In high doses, strychnine is very poisonous to humans and has a median lethal dose of 16 mg/kg. That equates to a dose of 1.12 grams being enough to kill a typical adult. That's nowhere near as deadly as botulinum, but nevertheless still pretty poisonous.

Alternative use:

The Invisible Man (hiding behind the tree).
An alternative use for strychnine in the late 19th century and early 20th century was as a performance enhancer for athletes. I have to say, I'm glad I wasn't a drug cheat back in the olden days if they took poisons for performance enhancement!

Editor's note: For legal purposes, I should of course point out that Charles isn't a drug cheat now either. He isn't an athlete, but if he was he certainly wouldn't take strychnine!

Another use for strychnine back in the early 20th century, was for weight loss purposes, with the Invisible Man from H.G. Wells' famous novel of the same name, declaring, "Strychnine is a grand tonic ... to take the flabbiness out of a man." Yes, I can well believe that strychnine would be a very effective way to lose weight, as I can imagine ingesting poison would certainly lead to a loss of appetite!

4) Tetrodotoxin

A pufferfish, or as its known in Japan, 'fugu'.
At first glance, tetrodotoxin is perhaps not as famous as some other poisons, but people will nevertheless be familiar with it, as tetrodotoxin is the potent neurotoxin found in pufferfish, known in Japan as 'fugu' where pufferfish is a traditional delicacy.

From 2006 to 2009 in Japan, there were 119 incidents of fugu poisoning involving 183 people, but according to Wikipedia 'only 7 people died'. Oh, well that's a relief. I was quite worried about trying fugu until I learned that 'only' seven people died. That puts my mind at ease.

Alternative use:

Research has been conducted into potential therapeutic uses of tetrodotoxin, and clinical trials as a possible treatment for cancer-associated pain have demonstrated significant pain relief in some patients.

5) Sarin

Sarin is a highly toxic synthetic compound, and exposure is lethal even at very low concentrations, both by contact with the skin and by inhalation.

To give you a comparison with other chemical warfare agents, sarin is 28 times more lethal than sulphur mustard, 81 times more lethal than hydrogen cyanide, and 543 times more lethal than chlorine gas.

Alternative use:

As well as sarin being a weapon of mass destruction used to deliberately kill people, an alternative use for sarin, popular in particular with corrupt intelligence agencies, is to use sarin to create 'false flag' chemical attacks, and then blame these chemical attacks on innocent parties as an excuse to start wars for gas and oil.

. . . . . . . .

On the theme of poison, my latest short story 'How To Poison Your Husband And Get Away With It' is available for free this weekend only for kindle:
'How To Poison Your Husband And Get Away With It'

For the avoidance of any doubt, 'How To Poison Your Husband And Get Away With It' is a short story. It is not an instruction manual.

1 comment:

  1. Everything I buy for kindle appears on my wife's tablet. I plan on buying 'How To Poison Your Husband and Get Away With It' and then spotting it by chance and quizzing her about it.


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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.