Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. If castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released ricin can
cause injury. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans. It can be in the form of a
powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid. It is a stable substance under conditions, but can be
inactivated by heat above eighty degrees. Castor beans are processed throughout the world to make castor oil. Ricin is part
of the produced when castor oil is made. Ricin has also been used experimentally in medicine to kill cancer cells. Ricin works by
getting inside the cells of a person's body and preventing the cells from receiving the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells
die, and death may occur. Effects of ricin poisoning depend on whether it was inhaled, ingested, or injected.
The major symptoms of ricin poisoning depend on the route fo exposure and the dose received through many organs may
be affected in severe cases. Initial symboms may occur within eight hours of exposure. Within few hours of inhaling significant
amounts of ricin, the likely symptoms of respiratory distress may follow as well as fluid building up in the lungs. This makes breathing
more difficult, and the skin might turn blue. If someone swallows a significant amount of ricin, he or she would develop diarrhea that
may become bloody. Severe dehydration may be the result. Other signs and symptoms may be hallucinations, and seizures. Ricin
is unlikely to be absorbed through normal skin. Contact with powders or products may cause redness and pain of the skin and eyes.
Death from ricin poisoning could take place within 36 to 72 hours of exposure, depending on route of exposure and the dose received.
If Ricin exposure cannot be avoided, the most important factor is getting the ricin off as quickly as possible. The first thing to do
is get fresh air by leaving the...
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