Recently Police in Kerala have arrested a woman for allegedly killing her husband, parents-in-law and three other members of the extended family over a period of 14 years using cyanide
- Cyanide is a rapidly acting, potentially deadly chemical that can exist in various forms.
- Cyanide can be a colorless gas, such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) or cyanogen chloride (CNCl), or a crystal form such as sodium cyanide (NaCN) or potassium cyanide (KCN).
- Cyanide sometimes is described as having a “bitter almond” smell, but it does not always give off an odor, and not everyone can detect this odor.
- Cyanide is also known by the military designations AC (for hydrogen cyanide) and CK (for cyanogen chloride).
Where cyanide is found and how it is used
- Cyanide is released from natural substances in some foods and in certain plants such as cassava, lima beans and almonds. Pits and seeds of common fruits, such as apricots, apples, and peaches, may have substantial amounts of chemicals which are metabolized to cyanide. The edible parts of these plants contain much lower amounts of these chemicals.
- Cyanide is contained in cigarette smoke and the combustion products of synthetic materials such as plastics. Combustion products are substances given off when things burn.
- In manufacturing, cyanide is used to make paper, textiles, and plastics. It is present in the chemicals used to develop photographs. Cyanide salts are used in metallurgy for electroplating, metal cleaning, and removing gold from its ore. Cyanide gas is used to exterminate pests and vermin in ships and buildings.
- If accidentally swallowed, chemicals found in acetonitrile-based products that are used to remove artificial nails can produce cyanide when metabolized by the body.
- Hydrogen cyanide, under the name Zyklon B, was used as a genocidal agent by the Germans in World War II.
- Reports have indicated that during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, hydrogen cyanide gas may have been used along with other chemical agents against the inhabitants of the Kurdish city of Halabja in northern Iraq.
- Cyanide is used in the extraction and polishing of gold, and for gold-plating. The ornament industry uses the chemical to give gold its reddish yellow colour, believed to be the “original” colour of the metal, and for ridding it of impurities.
Legal source of the chemical
- Cyanide is legally sourced from a Mumbai-based agency, which sells the chemical under strict restrictions to institutions or individuals who are able to furnish the relevant certificate issued by the Drugs Control Department. The permit-holder has to appear in person before the agency to procure the allotted quantity of chemical.