Five questions and answers about ricin

Five questions and answers about ricin

World May 18, 2018 09:54

- Five questions and answers about Ricine

What is ricin?

A natural toxin, originating from the beans of the Ricinus communis (fam. Euphorbiaceae), also called the wonder tree or castor oil plant. It is an extremely toxic product that can be inhaled, swallowed and injected. The production of ricin is relatively easy and cheap. There are three forms: liquid, crystal and powdery.

To what extent is ricin toxic?

In a pure state, ricin is deadly, even in a small amount. One gram could kill 36,000 people. However, it is unlikely that many victims would fall in a short time by spraying the substance into the air. Experts consider the substance more suitable for killing individuals than for use as a weapon during a battle or attack on a city.

What are the symptoms of exposure to ricin?

The symptoms depend on the dose and the way of administration. After inhalation, flu-like symptoms appear within a few hours. Usually there are problems with the lungs and possibly a cardiac arrest. If ricin is swallowed, the patient will vomit and develop abdominal cramps and severe diarrhea. A patient can die within 3 days, but the poisoning is not always fatal.

Is there an antidote or treatment?

There is no antidote to ricin. The treatment is focused on the control of symptoms.

Has ricin ever been used as a weapon?

Iraq has experimented with spreading the substance through grenades, but that did not work. In Afghanistan, the substance was found after the fall of the Taliban regime. The al-Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden may also have been planning to use it. The poison was used to kill the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov. He was pricked in London in 1978 with an umbrella specially made for the murder, with which ricin was put in his blood.

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