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lalyil
06-30-2014, 07:11 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for a common, easy to get toxin that would remain toxic for many many years (like, apparently morphine loses its functionality after several months/its expiry date) and would prove fatal in a manner of minutes or hours when injected into the vein (by overdose or not).

I was thinking about foxglove/digoxin but I don't know how long would an overdose of it take to kill a person. I've been reading research and apparently ammonia and/or pesticides haven't actually killed anyone who injected themselves with it...

Thank you :)

TheNighSwan
06-30-2014, 11:01 AM
For the lethality and avalaibility, botulinum toxin is certainly a must. It's:

1) The main ingredient of Botox, widely distributed to cosmetic professionals. It occures naturally and in fact preventing infestation of food by clostridium botulinum bacteria (which are the main source of botulinum toxin) is a major health concern in developped countries, since the bacteria are pretty much present everywhere and can be particularly tough to eradicate.
2) The most toxic substance known to man, with a mere 160 nanograms (a nanogram is a billionth of a gram) enough to kill a man if injected intravenously.

It's a neurotoxin: it goes into the nervous system and damages a certain type of protein necessary for nervous impulse transmission, thereby preventing the latter; the victim is thus killed by paralysis, specifically inability to breathe.

The reason such a dangerous substance is used in cosmetics is that it's generally harmless if injected into a muscle; injecting it into facial muscles causes a partial paralysis of those muscles, which causes a temporary disappearance of wrinkles. It has other related medical applications (not all of which are comestics).

However:

I don't know about it remaining effective for years; I'd rather expect such a complex molecule to deteroriate rather rapidly. However, since it is created by bacteria, it seems reasonable to keep a culture of bacteria for years (especially since these bacteria are able to form "endospores", dormant bacteria that are much more resistant and can indeed spend years (in fact, in some case, millions of years) in inactivity before being reactivated).

Also, in case of food born poisonning, the toxin takes several days to kill the victim, but I don't know about intravenous injection of the toxin, this could be much quicker, especially if the quantity injected is several million times above the minimal lethal dose.

Unimportant
06-30-2014, 11:10 AM
It will depend partly on how you keep it. Freeze dried and stored at -20 is about a zillion times better than a solution left to stand on a windowsill.

Does it have to be a toxin? Or would you settle for anything that can be injected into a person's vein and kill them? If the latter, potassium, say in the form of potassium chloride, is probably the easiest.

lalyil
06-30-2014, 11:49 AM
Thank you.

There'd be no way to store it in my setting. No freezing nor drying. It'd be found underground in the circumstances I'm writing about.

It doesn't have to be a toxin so long as it's lethal when injected (within a few hours maximum), commonly found and doesn't really have an expiration date.
In this case I'm guessing potassium chloride might be better than botulinum because of the expiration date situation?

Helix
06-30-2014, 12:09 PM
IIRC Clostridium botulinum is an obligate anaerobe, anyway, so it'd be difficult to maintain a colony under non-lab conditions, ready for toxin extraction.

lalyil
06-30-2014, 12:18 PM
Ah. Shame :( Well, hopefully the potassium chloride could work then. The only problem I read now is that apparently potassium chloride could only kill when injected using IV for a while and that the only reason it's a quick lethal injection in executions is because they give other drugs that do the trick.

Anyone happens to know if an injection, not IV, of potassium chloride with no further drugs could kill within hours tops?

Helix
06-30-2014, 12:29 PM
High doses of KCl can kill very rapidly. It stops normal electrical function in the heart and if medical support isn't provided quick smart, that's it.

mccardey
06-30-2014, 12:32 PM
Lord, but this is a disturbing thread...

sheadakota
06-30-2014, 04:13 PM
30ccs of air injected into a vein will cause a lethal air embolism.

King Neptune
06-30-2014, 05:40 PM
Injecting nicotine would kill fairly quickly. The lethal dosage would run from 100 to 300 milligrams.

WeaselFire
06-30-2014, 05:44 PM
Injecting nicotine would kill fairly quickly. The lethal dosage would run from 100 to 300 milligrams.
This was my first thought as well, followed by insulin. There are plenty of toxic materials that can kill quickly and remain viable for years, what do you need for the story to work? Any toxin? Something exotic? Something undetectable?

Jeff

lalyil
06-30-2014, 08:49 PM
I need it to be commonly found... And have a shelf life of 20+ years minimum.

Problem with injecting air is that the only way it'd kill you within hours is if it reaches the arteries. In the veins it'd cause some problems but will take forever to kill you. And the only way apparently for it to reach the arteries through the veins is if you have some heart defect.

Insulin doesn't have a long enough shelf life. Only if stored in a refrigerator it is, but no refrigerators available.

King Neptune
06-30-2014, 10:10 PM
I need it to be commonly found... And have a shelf life of 20+ years minimum.

Problem with injecting air is that the only way it'd kill you within hours is if it reaches the arteries. In the veins it'd cause some problems but will take forever to kill you. And the only way apparently for it to reach the arteries through the veins is if you have some heart defect.

Insulin doesn't have a long enough shelf life. Only if stored in a refrigerator it is, but no refrigerators available.

Then nicotine is it. It is common, and it is a stable compound (I will admit I don't know how long it would last, but it is persistent).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953858/

lalyil
06-30-2014, 10:34 PM
Then nicotine is it. It is common, and it is a stable compound (I will admit I don't know how long it would last, but it is persistent).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953858/

Thank you! Read through it. Can't find an expiration date nor how long it'd take to kill someone by injection. I read online that one man in the US committed suicide using injected liquid nicotine, but no clue how long it took him (if it's a matter of second or more)

melindamusil
06-30-2014, 11:54 PM
With the rise of e-cigarettes, I've read that there has been an increase of kids coming into ERs with nicotine overdoses. They get into mommy and daddy's e-cigs and drink the nicotine fluid. You may be able to find some examples of that by searching google news.

King Neptune
06-30-2014, 11:58 PM
Thank you! Read through it. Can't find an expiration date nor how long it'd take to kill someone by injection. I read online that one man in the US committed suicide using injected liquid nicotine, but no clue how long it took him (if it's a matter of second or more)

I haven't been able to find how long nicotine lasts, but I believe that it would be decades or longer, because of old cigars and pipe tobacco that still have nicotine.

The symptoms of nicotine poisoning are caused by excessive stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic neurons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholinergic). Nicotine is an agonist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agonist) at nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinic_acetylcholine_receptor) which are present in the central (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_nervous_system) and autonomic nervous systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomic_nervous_system), and the neuromuscular junction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromuscular_junction). At low doses nicotine causes stimulatory effects on these receptors, however, higher doses or more sustained exposures can cause inhibitory effects leading to neuromuscular blockade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromuscular_blockade).[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_poisoning#cite_note-Schep-4)[25] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_poisoning#cite_note-25)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_poisoning

"Heartbeat - pounding (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003081.htm) and rapid, followed by slow heart rate" I believe that death is by cardian arrest.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002510.htm

I can't find anything the states the time to kill, but it is not instantaneous, because it kills by overwhelming the acetocholine receptors. The last link lists symptoms. In large doses I believe that it interferes with breathing and pulse, because it messes up the neuro-muscular signals.

Telergic
07-01-2014, 12:03 AM
30ccs of air injected into a vein will cause a lethal air embolism.

Not guaranteed, I don't believe.

lalyil
07-01-2014, 12:09 AM
Thank you. According to some research I've found a large dose could kill in seconds. And the liquid nicotine available in the US does have an expiry date of about 2 years since it's mixed with other substances, but 99-100% liquid nicotine, as available in other countries, has no expiration date. So that's good.

Thank you very much. Looks like liquid nicotine it is :)



I haven't been able to find how long nicotine lasts, but I believe that it would be decades or longer, because of old cigars and pipe tobacco that still have nicotine.

The symptoms of nicotine poisoning are caused by excessive stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic neurons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholinergic). Nicotine is an agonist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agonist) at nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinic_acetylcholine_receptor) which are present in the central (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_nervous_system) and autonomic nervous systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomic_nervous_system), and the neuromuscular junction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromuscular_junction). At low doses nicotine causes stimulatory effects on these receptors, however, higher doses or more sustained exposures can cause inhibitory effects leading to neuromuscular blockade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromuscular_blockade).[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_poisoning#cite_note-Schep-4)[25] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_poisoning#cite_note-25)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine_poisoning

"Heartbeat - pounding (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003081.htm) and rapid, followed by slow heart rate" I believe that death is by cardian arrest.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002510.htm

I can't find anything the states the time to kill, but it is not instantaneous, because it kills by overwhelming the acetocholine receptors. The last link lists symptoms. In large doses I believe that it interferes with breathing and pulse, because it messes up the neuro-muscular signals.

King Neptune
07-01-2014, 12:41 AM
Thank you. According to some research I've found a large dose could kill in seconds. And the liquid nicotine available in the US does have an expiry date of about 2 years since it's mixed with other substances, but 99-100% liquid nicotine, as available in other countries, has no expiration date. So that's good.

Thank you very much. Looks like liquid nicotine it is :)

Great! i thought it could kill very quickly in large doses, but I couldn't find it. I started a murder mystery where nicotine was used, and I may finish it.

Unimportant
07-01-2014, 12:56 AM
Be aware that pure nicotine may be quite difficult to purchase; it's in the same category as cholera toxin and tetrodotoxin. The average bloke on the street generally can't purchase that type of thing from a reputable chemical company like Sigma Aldrich.

lalyil
07-01-2014, 01:06 AM
Neptune, good luck to you :)

Unimportant, yeah I would think so. Though in my setting it's a little different. And I've read accounts of people extracting nicotine straight from cigarettes to attempt suicide. They failed of course, but had all the pre-symptoms. If one extracted more than they did, I would believe it works. In that case, in my setting, it should be quite easy to attain.

Wilde_at_heart
07-01-2014, 03:15 AM
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned ricin yet. Easily made from Castor beans and very toxic. In the top ten, if not the top three most lethal substances.

Torgo
07-01-2014, 03:21 AM
Great! i thought it could kill very quickly in large doses, but I couldn't find it. I started a murder mystery where nicotine was used, and I may finish it.

Nicotine's a great all-rounder. Can also be absorbed through the skin, I think, though I dunno how efficient that would be.

Helix
07-01-2014, 03:22 AM
How long do most plant poisons -- nicotine, ricin, digitalis, atropine, morphine etc -- last before breaking down?

TheNighSwan
07-01-2014, 05:45 AM
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned ricin yet. Easily made from Castor beans and very toxic. In the top ten, if not the top three most lethal substances.

Ricin is indeed among the most toxic known substances, though it is topped by a number of very nasty toxins (botulinum, batrachotoxin, maitoxin), by dioxins, by nerve agents (sarin, VX), and by polonium-210.

King Neptune
07-01-2014, 04:27 PM
Nicotine's a great all-rounder. Can also be absorbed through the skin, I think, though I dunno how efficient that would be.

Yes, it is absorbed through the skin. If you want to kill someone with a half gram of something, and you don't have connections in the chemical business, then look to nicotine. A massive dose would cause a general seizure followed shortly by cardiac arrest.

King Neptune
07-01-2014, 04:46 PM
How long do most plant poisons -- nicotine, ricin, digitalis, atropine, morphine etc -- last before breaking down?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953858/
https://www.us.elsevierhealth.com/media/us/samplechapters/9780702029332/9780702029332_2.pdf

They are deep-brown, thick liquids and are very stable.
http://books.google.com/books?id=qyYuAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=stability+of+vegetable+alkaloids+nicotine+stora ge&source=bl&ots=d32TBu4TxD&sig=9SmxTli0fMAUh0bquwtVvwEoZuc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=36qyU7K3B-qhsQTWi4CIDA&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=stability%20of%20vegetable%20alkaloids%20nicotin e%20storage&f=false

Ricin:
It is a stable substance under normal conditions,
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asp

morphine:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23982088

It is my understanding that vegetable alkaloids are fairly stable, but that depends on how they are stored and varies with the chemical. Morphine and nicotine can last for hundreds of years, but that would be in a tightly sealed container. It appears that ricin is also quite stable. If you want to know about a specific chemical, then a search should turn something up.

jaksen
07-01-2014, 05:06 PM
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned ricin yet. Easily made from Castor beans and very toxic. In the top ten, if not the top three most lethal substances.

Many many years ago - going on 40 yrs ago! - my father grew these plants as they have gorgeous foliage. He told us kids to keep away from them and we did.

Which is odd, as we were sort of naughty kids and often raided his raspberry canes, grapevines, rhubarb plants, tomato plants, strawberry vines, etc.

But like I said - MANY yrs ago. :D

Wilde_at_heart
07-01-2014, 06:03 PM
Many many years ago - going on 40 yrs ago! - my father grew these plants as they have gorgeous foliage. He told us kids to keep away from them and we did.

Which is odd, as we were sort of naughty kids and often raided his raspberry canes, grapevines, rhubarb plants, tomato plants, strawberry vines, etc.

But like I said - MANY yrs ago. :D

It is amazing how many toxic plants are cultivated by the Parks commission around where I live.

Castor plants are all over the place (and though I'm not partial to them, their foliage is certainly striking), and Angel's trumpet lines the main road for Niagara-in-the-Lake in the summer. Beautiful flower, but deadly. Belladonna grows all over the place, and that shrub with the extremely poisonous red berries is commonplace as well.

I should have clarified in my OP though - it's one of the top three most toxic naturally-occurring substances.

Ann Rule once wrote about a woman who'd been caught trying to poison her husband with the stuff. She mixed it in his food and although the poor man got very ill, he did survive iirc.

Lpapercranes
07-04-2014, 06:42 PM
Forgive me if i've missed this, but has anyone mentioned allergens? If the victim has a life threatening allergy, it will kill quickly and you can get the ingredient in a grocery store. (For instance, peanut oil.)