Agent Name

Strychnine

CAS Number

57-24-9

Formula

C21-H22-N2-O2

Major Category

Biological Agents

Synonyms

Nux vomica; Strynchnos; [NIOSH]

Category

Plant Toxins

Description

Colorless to white, odorless, crystalline solid. [pesticide] [NIOSH]

Sources/Uses

Used as a rodenticide and to poison birds and larger wild animals; [ACGIH] Strychnine is an alkaloid in the seeds of the Strychnos nux-vomica tree; No longer used in prescription drugs, but it may be encountered as an adulterant in elicit drugs; [Olson, p. 381]

Comments

Poisoning by ingestion causes tonic spasms and convulsions. [ACGIH] Strychnine blocks the effect of glycine, the postsynaptic inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord. The resulting excitatory responses include exaggerated contractions of muscles, opisthotonus, and trismus in an alert patient. The "spinal seizures" are triggered by minimal sensory or motor stimuli. The extreme muscular contractions can cause rhabdomyolysis, myoglobinuria, and renal failure. Severe poisoning is fatal. [Ford, p. 857]

Reference Link

EPA Pesticide Chemical Search

Exposure Assessment
Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Insufficient data

TLV (ACGIH)

0.15 mg/m3

PEL (OSHA)

0.15 mg/m3

IDLH (NIOSH)

3 mg/m3

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

Human data: It has been reported that the probable lethal oral dose is 1.5 to 2 mg/kg [Gosselin et al. 1984]. [Note: An oral dose of 1.5 to 2 mg/kg is equivalent to a 70kg worker being exposed to 70 to 93 mg/m3 for 30 minutes assuming a 50 liter per minute breathing rate and 100% absorption.]

Adverse Effects
Neurotoxin

Other CNS Neurotoxin

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Toxicity Information

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Processes

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