Toxicity can come in all shapes and sizes. These toxic substances can quickly destroy life with a mere touch, inhalation or swallowing. Living organisms too can produce toxins, with the main intention of keeping predators at bay. Insecticides and chemical weapons are a result of human handiwork. While neurotoxins trigger twitches and freeze in muscles, other toxins can result in multiple allergies. A few of most oft-heard toxins are listed here.
This is the king of toxins, which, if injected or swallowed, could kill with just one gram, 14000 people. Originating from bacteria, this neurotoxic protein, called Botulinum, effectuates fatal sickness that spreads through contaminated food. It results in respiratory failure, although in little doses, it can relieve muscle spasms, and stop the skin from wrinkling further.
Sarin was first developed as a pesticide, later converted into a biological weapon by German scientists in 1938. It is colorless and volatile and attacks the enzyme groups to cause havoc on the muscles. It has been used during Iran-Iraq War in the Eighties, and in terrorist attacks in Tokyo.
Asbestos is composed of silicate minerals in fibrous crystals, with insulating properties, and is extensively in the construction of buildings due to its résistance to fire absorption of sound, and thermal insulation. Inhaling asbestos essentially results in inflammatory lung diseases and in extreme cases, even cancer. The symptoms are, however, known to manifest years later after it is inhaled.
A popular and common pesticide, this ingredient is mainly employed for killing rodents and birds. It can be easily concealed and hence could easily be used for nefarious purposes. Historically, many instances have been reported where this was used to poison famous people like Alexander.
Originally a product of castor oil plant, ricin is a protein variant that affects major organs by targeting ribosomes in cell structure. Since one milligram could potentially kill a human being in seconds. It could be used as a likely biological weapon. It is an assassin’s eternal favorite due to its easy availability and cheap cost.
Carbon monoxide prevents the flow of oxygen to cells by binding itself to hemoglobin. It results usually in air poisoning, and only well-ventilated houses can safeguard themselves from its aftereffects. The victim, who inhales this gas, would be suffocated and die within two to three breaths.
Who has not heard of the famous cyanide gas that was responsible for the murder of millions during Nazi times? Suffocating the heart and brain in seconds, this gas is present in engine exhaust fumes in small amounts as well. It is used for the purpose of gold mining and is extensively used in pesticides.
TCDD is a dioxin, of both human and natural origin that accumulate in the fat cells for an indefinite period of time, as a result of which the immune and reproductive systems are damaged, causing diabetes and cancer. Vietnamese war veterans used a herbicide mixed with TCDD during the war.
A major ingredient that make up for the entire composition of a cigarette, is an oily liquid that goes by the name of nicotine. Pure liquid nicotine causes death within a few hours. Smokers, who overdose on cigarettes, die earlier than people who smoke cigarettes coated with nicotine patches applied on the body.
It is a variety of puffer fish that goes by an exotic name, the Fugu. Although only licensed Japanese chefs are allowed to serve this, it still has resulted in more deaths due to respiratory failure, than is imagined. The culprit is Tetrodotoxin that is found amply in this variety of fish, including the deadly octopus.