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View Diary: BREAKING: Suspicious envelope sent to Pres. Obama, Bomb Squad at Hart & Russell buildings (83 comments)

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  •  Ricin is actually most dangerous (4+ / 0-)

    when injected.

    But I suppose it could be inhaled if somebody mistakes it for cocaine?  Otherwise I'm not sure how likely that route of exposure would be.

    •  CDC lists (5+ / 0-)

      both inhalation and ingestion as serious risks.

      Inhalation: Within a few hours of inhaling significant amounts of ricin, the likely symptoms would be respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest. Heavy sweating may follow as well as fluid building up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This would make breathing even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue. Excess fluid in the lungs would be diagnosed by x-ray or by listening to the chest with a stethoscope. Finally, low blood pressure and respiratory failure may occur, leading to death. In cases of known exposure to ricin, people having respiratory symptoms should seek medical care.

      Ingestion: If someone swallows a significant amount of ricin, he or she would likely develop vomiting and diarrhea that may become bloody. Severe dehydration may be the result, followed by low blood pressure. Other signs or symptoms may include seizures, and blood in the urine. Within several days, the person’s liver, spleen, and kidneys might stop working, and the person could die.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 09:12:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but my point is (0+ / 0-)

        "how do you inhale a significant amount of ricin"?

        ricin, of course, is in castor bean oil . .. . so ingestion * can * be a risk, but it's not of nearly the same magnitude as injection.

        Once ricin gets into the body - there's a paper out there along the lines of "one molecule of ricin can kill a cell"  - it can be very potent.  But in the gut - being a protein - most of it is digested making it much less potent.

        •  Well, they don't say what a "significant amount" (0+ / 0-)

          is, but they do say:

          It can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.
          so I imagine the trick to weaponizing it for inhalation would be to purify it, dry it and grind it into as fine a powder as possible.

          “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

          by jrooth on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 09:56:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One step farther (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jrooth
            I imagine the trick to weaponizing it for inhalation would be to purify it, dry it and grind it into as fine a powder as possible--
            & finally, treat the powder to prevent it from taking a charge of static electricity.

            The optimal particle size for aerosols to enter the body via the lungs is 1-10 microns. Anything smaller tends to stay in the inhaled air & breathed right back out; anything larger is intercepted by cilia in the nasopharynx, smothered by mucus & ejected via sneezing or nose blowing. But particles in this size range tend to pick up a static charge rather easily & will clump up thereby.

            This is probably the hardest part of "weaponization." Remember Aum Shinrikyo? IIRC, before the Tokyo subway sarin attack, they tried to kill off a fair hunk of the city by means of anthrax.  That bunch of murderers had plenty of technical competence & had no great problem in getting hold of Bacillus anthracis, growing it in copious quantities, making it sporulate, or harvesting the spores & milling them to the proper size--but they never figured out how to treat it, so when they released the stuff, it clumped up & fell to earth & was washed away by the next rain.

            BALTIMORE RAVENS--SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS! WOOO-HOOO!

            by Uncle Cosmo on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:50:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  likely route (7+ / 0-)

      would be someone handling the letter, then licking fingers or wiping nose.    

      But I think the main intent is causing fear and alarm rather than actual poisoning.  He's enjoying the media flap and the investigation.

      We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

      by Tracker on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 09:23:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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