Friday, October 15, 2004

What cyanide is

Cyanide are the salts of hydrocyanic acid and are among the most poisonous substances known. Cyanide is rapidly acting, potentially deadly chemical that can exist in various forms. Cyanide can be a colorless gas, such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) or cyanogens chloride (CNCL) or a crystal form that is water-soluble such as sodium cyanide (NaCN) or potassium chloride (KCN) and poorly water-soluble mercury, copper, gold, and silver cyanide salts. The most dangerous compounds are hydrogen cyanides (also known as hydrocyanic acid or prussic acid) and cyanogens, which are stored under pressure as liquid but which are used as gases, such as cyanogens chloride and bromide are gases with potent pulmonary irritant effect. Hydrocyanic acid gas is liberated from solid cyanides by the action of acids, water or even water vapor. A number of cyanide-containing compounds, known as cyanogens, may release cyanide during metabolism. Much of the cyanide used is in the form of salts, such as sodium, potassium, or calcium cyanide, but in the military cyanides are used in the volatile liquid hydrocyanic acid. Cyanide is also known by the military designations AN (for hydrogen cyanide) and CK (for cyanogens chloride). The ‘ bitter almond’ smell of hydrocyanic acid is a characteristic, but cannot be detected by some people1-3.


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