Cyanide poisoning

Cyanide is used in a variety of industries, including Perspex manufacture, vermin extermination and electroplating. 

The greatest current risk for accidental exposure outside of industry is in household fires, in which cyanide is generated by the combustion of nitrogen-containing compounds such as nylon. 

Cyanide is toxic as it inhibitis cytochrome oxidase 

Classical features of cyanide poisoning: 
  • Smell of bitter almonds (60% of people can smell this) 
  • Red skin

Other signs and symptoms: 
  • Headache 
  • Metallic taste 
  • Dizziness 
  • Hypotension
  • Arrhythmias 
  • Seizures 
  • Coma 

  • 100% oxygen
  • ?amyl nitrite – may be available on site in factories etc where cyanide poisoning is a risk 
  • IV dicobalt edetate (in the UK; the newer treatment in use elsewhere is hydroxycobalamin, which has less side effects)

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