Definition and Types of Poison

  • A poison is any chemical substance that is harmful or lethal to living organisms.
  • Poisoning can be accidental or deliberate, depending on the circumstances and the presence of living things.
  • In biology, a poison causes death, injury, or harm to organisms or their parts.
  • In medicine, poisons are toxins that are delivered passively, not actively.
  • Poisons can be introduced into the environment and cause unwanted effects elsewhere.
  • Poisons are substances that cause harm when swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.
  • Toxins and venoms are types of poisons produced by organisms in nature.
  • Venoms are actively delivered through bites or stings, while poisons are passively delivered.
  • Toxins and venoms can cause death, injury, or harm to organs, tissues, cells, and DNA.
  • The delivery method of the toxin distinguishes venom from poison.

Uses and Impact of Poison

  • Many industries, agriculture, and other sectors use poisonous substances for various purposes.
  • Poisonous substances are used in feedstocks, solvents, cleaners, coatings, and more.
  • Some poisons have economic value for agricultural purposes like weed and pest control.
  • Hazardous substances regulations govern the production, procurement, and use of poisonous compounds.
  • Pesticides are examples of substances designed to be toxic to pests like insects and rodents.
  • Poisons can enter the food chain and become concentrated in predatory organisms.
  • Some poisons can enter the body through the skin, lungs, or faulty medical implants.
  • Chemical contamination is often irreversible, requiring specific processes for removal.
  • Bioaccumulation of agricultural insecticides affects species that consume insects.
  • Selective toxicity, controlled application, and controlled biodegradation are challenges in pesticide development.
  • Pollution refers to the widespread dispersion of poisons in the environment.
  • Pollution can be of human origin or caused by unwanted biological processes.
  • Radiological poisons are associated with ionizing radiation and have distinct toxicity.
  • Radon is a natural radiological poison that can accumulate in enclosed structures.
  • Ecology and environmental resource management study the life cycle and effects of toxic compounds.

Poisoning and Management

  • Poisoning can be acute or chronic, caused by natural or synthetic substances.
  • Corrosives, like lye, are classified separately as they destroy tissue but do not absorb into the body.
  • Acute poisoning occurs from a single exposure or short period of time, with symptoms developing soon after.
  • Chronic poisoning occurs from repeated or continuous exposure to a poison, with symptoms appearing gradually.
  • Bioaccumulation or biomagnification can lead to chronic poisoning with substances like mercury, gadolinium, and lead.
  • Initial management for all poisonings includes ensuring cardiopulmonary function and treating symptoms.
  • Injected poisons can be treated by applying pressure bandages and immersing the affected body part in hot water.
  • Supportive care is the mainstay of management, focusing on treating symptoms rather than the poison.
  • Gastric decontamination techniques may be used to decrease absorption of ingested poisons.
  • Activated charcoal is the treatment of choice to prevent poison absorption, but it is ineffective against certain substances.

Treatment Methods for Poisoning

  • Cathartics (sorbitol) are no longer recommended as they do not improve patient outcome.
  • Emesis (induced by ipecac) is ineffective at removing poisons and is no longer recommended.
  • Gastric lavage, commonly known as a stomach pump, has been used as a treatment for poisoned patients but recent reviews suggest no benefit.
  • Nasogastric aspiration is used for liquid ingestions where activated charcoal is ineffective.
  • Whole bowel irrigation is used to cleanse the bowel and remove ingested drug packets or sustained-release drugs.
  • Diuresis, hemodialysis, hemoperfusion, hyperbaric medicine, peritoneal dialysis, exchange transfusion, and chelation can enhance the elimination of poison.

Historical References and Figurative Use of Poison

  • Throughout history, poison has been used for murder, pest-control, suicide, and execution.
  • Methods of administration include ingestion, inhalation, injection, and even as an enema.
  • Poison has been used in warfare and as a method of royal assassination.
  • Arsenic, once nicknamed 'inheritance powder,' is an example of a naturally occurring environmental poison.
  • Personal food tasters were employed in Medieval Europe to prevent royal assassination.
  • The term 'poison' is used figuratively, such as referring to alcoholic drinks.
  • Figurative use of the term dates back to the late 15th century.
  • Referring to persons as 'poison' became common in 1910.
  • The phrase 'poison-pen letter' became well-known in 1913.
  • The term is used figuratively in various contexts, including slang and criminal cases.

Poison Data Sources

Reference URL
Glossary https://www.alternix.com/blogs/glossary-of-terms/poison
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poison
Wikidata https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q40867
Knowledge Graph https://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/m/0dh11