From silly quotes such as ‘ Love is Poison’, to ‘Maggi’ , the two-minute noodle snack , recently being lambasted and embroiled in controversy over alleged lead poisoning, to the Government of Delhi in India, implementing the ‘Odd-Even Policy’ as a measure to counter air poisoning from pollution , the topic of poison seems to be a relevant scenario in our daily lives. From food poisoning to Alcohol poisoning, we are exposed to several hazards that are capable of taking our lives and in this context, it makes sense to know what substances pose a threat to us. Given here is a list of the top 10 most deadly poisons available in the world. Take note.
Cyanide is a highly reactive chemical that can exist as a gas or a salt and on intake, can result in death by its ability to prevent free-flow of oxygen through the body. If you think Cyanide was found only in movies, think again. Apart from being used in the manufacture of synthetic plastics, metals and chemical research, Cyanide can also be found in various plants such as ‘Cassavas’, ‘Lima Beans’ and in fruits such as ‘Apples’ and ‘Peaches’. It is commonly found in Cigarette smoke as it is present in Tobacco and results in smokers having a mean of 2.5 times more of Cyanide content in their blood. Fortunately, the presence of this chemical in these items is insufficient to cause any serious poisoning. Cyanide is most poisonous when it is encountered in the form of ‘Hydrogen Cyanide‘, which is capable of killing a person in a span of a few minutes and is one of the primary reasons for its use in chemical warfare. It can affect your body through ingestion, inhalation, skin contact or even contact through the eye and can cause coma and a cardiac arrest before resulting in a painful and gruesome death.
You could come into contact with this chemical if you are exposed to chronic fumes, from the burning of polymer products that contain ‘Nitrile‘, an organic compound or, through industrial leaks.
Strychnine is a chemical that sees its origin from the ‘Strychnine Tree‘ otherwise known as the ‘Poison Nut Tree‘ that can be found in parts of India and other South East Asian Regions. Once used as a fertilizer, it was put under strict regulation after it was discovered that its ingestion, inhalation or contact with skin could cause convulsions in the muscles alongside momentary stoppage in respiration.The problems were then found to increase, with the beginning of seizures that rose in frequency, subsequently leading to the victim’s death as a result of excessive exhaustion or asphyxiation.
This is a chemical we all are familiar with, having encountered it time and again during our times of sickness. Found in thermometers and barometers, mercury is widely used in the manufacture of these equipments due to its property of staying solid at room temperature. What may be unknown is that this chemical is a lethal toxin when we come into its contact, sans the protective casing of the humble thermometer.Mercury poisoning can result from ingestion, inhalation, injection or absorption through the skin and symptoms of this poisoning include depression, hallucinations, anger and insomnia among many others and can result in the failure of the neurological system, urinary system, respiratory system and digestive system ultimately leading to the untimely death of the victim.
7) TETRODOTOXIN / PUFFER FISH
For all you fish lovers out there, I would strictly advise against this diet, unless of course, you like to live dangerously. If you thought Cyanide was dangerous, be prepared for the puffer fish that contains ‘ Tetrodotoxin’, a chemical that is 1000 times more poisonous than cyanide. Exposure to this toxin often results from consumption of Pufferfish that is not cooked properly and consumption of a single fish possesses enough toxin to kill roughly 30 adults! The toxin’s process of leading the unfortunate victim to death begins with the shutting down of the Central Nervous System while causing vomiting and diarrhea. It then goes on to disable the lungs and brain leading the victim to a coma and eventual death.
Trivia: Considered a delicacy in Japan, puffer fish meat is known as ‘Fugu’ on the Japanese menu and can only be prepared by Chefs that are trained and certified by the Government.
6) PLUTONIUM/ PLUTONIUM DUST
Plutonium is a dangerous material and is extremely capable of sustaining a nuclear reaction. Given its nuclear properties, plutonium is an extremely poisonous substance and a few millionth’s of a gram can cause cancer in the lungs, liver and bones. Inhalation of plutonium dust is the most lethal form of this toxin with an estimate suggesting that 500 grams of dust released into the air would be sufficient to kill an aggregate of 2 million people. Due to this extreme level of toxicity, workers at plutonium processing facilities are required to adhere to strict regulations and are monitored for their radiation levels at the end of each working day.
Lead is an extremely poisonous substance and inhalation of lead dust or ingestion of lead can lead to severe complications especially among children. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1,43,000 people die every year due to lead poisoning with nearly 6,00,000 children developing intellectual disabilities. Lead may be encountered in stray foods, old house paints, eyeliners, local toys, degraded plumbing and jewelry. A high level of lead exposure can cause victims to experience seizures, vomiting and weakness along with brain and kidney damage leading the victim into a stage of coma, later causing death.
Trivia: ‘Maggi Noodles’, the famous quick bite from Nestle, recently was on the docks and faced legal charges for exceeding the permissible limit of lead, 2.5 parts per million, that is allowed in foods in India.
4) Amatoxins / Mushrooms
Many of us may have a taste for mushrooms with many delicacies arising from this palate. Although it is imperative to know which mushroom is edible and which is not from the list of inedible mushrooms is 50 out of 5000 and it can often be tricky in judging their eligibility for digestion. On estimate, 7 milligrams of this substance is sufficient to cause death in adults and hence, Amatoxins are responsible for nearly 90% of deaths, caused by consumption of mushrooms as it causes the failure of the heart and kidneys with symptoms including insomnia, liver damage corneal burns and eye damage.
Trivia: The ‘Amanita Phalloides‘ or the ‘Death Cap Mushroom‘ is known to be the world’s deadliest mushroom as it is known to have been the cause of extensive deaths in the world. The primary toxin in this mushroom is Amatoxin and an estimate consumption of half a mushroom is sufficient to kill an adult.
3) Sarin / Nerve Gas
Initially developed as a pesticide, Sarin was found to be a nerve agent that proved to be fatal to humans due to its capacity to disrupt and disable the neurotransmitters which is essentially the ability of the nerves to communicate with organs and deliver requisite instructions. To illustrate, Neurotransmitters may instruct the eye to shed tears to remove an irritant that may have entered it.Once the instruction is delivered, the neurotransmitter is broken down by an enzyme and things go back to normal. The introduction of a nerve gas like Sarin results in the enzyme failing to break down the neurotransmitter and the instruction is delivered repetitively causing a running eye. Imagine the same effect with crucial organs such as your urinary system. The accumulation of neurotransmitters would result in a distortion in the functioning of muscles along with diarrhea leading to death due to a collapse in the entire body system.
A toxin that originates from nature, Ricin is found as a natural substance in castor beans, that are used in the manufacture of castor oil and an extensive direct ingestion of these beans could lead to various complications including death. Ricin, when refined or purified partially, could be lethal and works by entering the cells of the victim preventing them from creating proteins. A lack of proteins causes the body to dysfunction leading to the death of the victim. Ricin poisoning can occur from inhalation, ingestion or skin and eye exposure with symptoms including respiratory failure, seizures, blood in the urine and failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys. Although it is not contagious, it can also be contracted from a victim’s clothes or body.
If you’ve ever wanted to undergo a Botox treatment to look younger, think again! Botox is a purified application of the substance known as Botulinium produced by a bacteria known as ‘ Clostridium Botulinium‘. Botulinium is the cause of a fatal illness known as ‘Botulism’. This illness is caused by improperly preserved food containers, canned food and fermented dishes. It can also result from bacteria that contaminate the wound on the skin and usage of misguided and inappropriate injection of ‘Botox’. Symptoms include paralysis, nausea, vomiting and a disturbed state of mind.If not treated in time, this transcends into respiratory failure due to a paralysis of the breathing muscles, resulting in death.
The fact that Botox is a largely sought after cosmetic method in today’s world makes us most susceptible to its poisoning and hence it takes the number 1 spot on our list.
With this list, we hope to have enlightened you on the most dangerous substances you should avoid. Stay cautious, act smart and never hesitate to seek help in times of sickness, for it’s better to be safe than sorry.