Cyanide in food
In cells, energy is produced in the form of ATP (essential for the life of the organism) thanks to the existence of an ATPase, but in the brown adipose tissue of hibernating animals and newborn humans, there is an uncoupling protein called thermogenin. The protein blocks the ATPase that channels energy production into oxidative phosphorylation.
The onset of uncoupling begins with the inhibition of the cytochrome oxidase complex, thereby blocking the electron transport chain, the central system of the cellular respiration process.
Consequently, a drop in intracellular oxygen is produced by not receiving that oxygen, preventing cell homeostasis. With the decrease in O2 utilization by the cell, cytotoxic hypoxia, usually lethal, is formed.
“Acute ingestion or inhalation of cyanide causes immediate unconsciousness, convulsions and death within one to 15 minutes. Likewise, its ingestion causes congestion and corrosion of the gastric mucosa,” said the academic.
What is cyanide
The International Council on Metals and The Environment (ICME) has published this document as part of its efforts to provide information on health and environmental issues affecting the mining and metals sector. –
Founded in 1991, ICME is a non-governmental organization that promotes the development and implementation of environmental policies and practices in the production, use, recycling and disposal of precious and non-ferrous metals. –
Cyanide is the chemical of choice for gold recovery: Cyanide is one of the few reagents that dissolves gold in water, it is an industrial chemical that is available at a reasonably low price, it has been used for metal extraction since 1887, cyanide is produced in large quantities and is used to synthesize nylon and acrylics, in gold recovery it uses 18% of the world’s cyanide production.
Sodium cyanide dissolved in water
When a substance is released from a large area, for example from an industrial plant, or from a container such as a barrel or bottle, the substance enters the environment. This release does not always lead to exposure. You can be exposed to a substance only when you come into contact with it-by inhaling, eating or drinking the substance, or by skin contact.
There are many factors that determine whether exposure to cyanide will harm you. These factors include the dose (the amount), the duration (how long) and the way you come into contact with the substance. You should also consider the other chemicals you are exposed to, your age, sex, diet, personal characteristics, lifestyle and health condition.
Cyanide is a chemical group consisting of a carbon atom connected to a nitrogen atom by three bonds (C=N). Cyanides are compounds (substances formed by the bonding of two or more atoms) that contain the cyanide group can (typically expressed as CN). Cyanides occur naturally or are manufactured; most are potent and fast-acting poisons. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN), which is a gas, and the simple cyanide salts (sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide) are examples of cyanide compounds.
The truth is that things are not as easy as they may seem at first. In fact, science and research are advancing to make natural foods like milk, for example, much safer than they were before. Moreover, in nature we can also find poisons such as hemlock or foods containing amygdalin, a compound that turns into cyanide when it comes into contact with certain substances in our body. It happens, for example, with bitter almonds, apricots, peaches, apples, pears or cherries.
Robles warns that, although it is recommended to avoid them, nothing happens if we eat one of these pits or seeds unintentionally. “The lethal dose of cyanide is between 0.5 and 3.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (between 35 and 245 milligrams for a 60-kilogram adult), and the cyanide content in the seeds ranges between 500 and 3,800 milligrams per kilogram, and each one weighs 0.5 grams, so in the worst-case scenario, you would have to eat at least 18 pits to cause death,” writes the expert in her book.