Ricin

CAS RN: 9009-86-3

Toxicity Summary

IDENTIFICATION: Ricin is a white powder which is extracted from the castor bean. It is soluble in sodium chloride solution and water. HUMAN EXPOSURE: After administration of ricin by any route there is a latency period of many hours and sometimes several days. Ingestion results in severe gastroenteritits, often hemorrhagic. Later the victim becomes drowsy, confused, irrational and comatose. Shock and renal failure may develop. Local inflammatory lesions result from dust in the eyes nose and throat. After ingestion of the beans, the pulse may become rapid as the blood pressure falls and cyanosis appears. Death may be due to circulatory collapse. Kidneys may be critically affected; the patient dies in uremia after oliguria and anuria. Ingestion of the castor beans produces focal necrosis and inflammation and degeneration in heart and spleen. The dust is highly irritant and has caused conjunctivitis with swelling and tearing of the lids, congestion of the nasal passages, dryness and soreness of throat, swelling of lips, some bronchial irritation and prolonged asthma of allergic origin. A 21 year old individual ingested 30 castor beans, some of which were masticated. Three hours later, he developed severe diarrhea with vomiting and abdominal cramps followed by extracellular dehydration and circulatory collapse. ANIMAL STUDIES: By whatever route of its administration, ricin is very toxic. All animals are susceptible to the effects. Horses are most sensitive to the toxic effects of ricin. Sheep, cattle and pigs are more resistant. Ducks and hens are most resistant to the effects of ricin exposure. Ricin powder is severely irritating on the eye. Severe inflammation and pseudomembranous conjunctivitis are induced by application of the solid or liquid. Mucopurulent discharge has been observed in ricin exposed animals. Parenteral administration of ricin causes a rapid weight loss after a latent period of time. Animals develop diarrhea, convulsions along with flaccid paralysis. There is gastric and intestinal mucous membrane irritation along with punctiform hemorrhages. Mesenteric lymphatics are swollen along with the liver, kidney and spleen. Lungs may be edematous and trachea and bronchi filled with frothy liquid.
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