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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION

  1. Potassium cyanide is an alkaline cyanide salt compound. It is decomposed by water (slowly) and by acids (rapidly) releasing flammable and highly toxic HYDROGEN CYANIDE gas.
    1. In water of neutral pH, not enough hydrogen cyanide gas is released to be dangerous, except in enclosed spaces. However, if the water is acidic, significant amounts of hydrogen cyanide gas may be released. While potassium cyanide is not volatile, reaction of suspended dust particles with moisture and carbon dioxide in the air can result in release of some hydrogen cyanide.
  1. Dermal contact with the moist solid material can result in skin irritation or ulceration. Chronic occupational cyanide exposure has been associated with a variety of dermal and mucous membrane irritant complaints, usually attributed to exposure to highly alkaline aerosols or solutions of cyanide salts.
  1. True chronic cyanide toxicity in humans is rare, although a variety of complaints including goiter, subclinical thyroid dysfunction, B12 and folate abnormalities, headaches, vertigo, chest discomfort, palpitations, eye and respiratory irritation, dermatitis, fatigue, poor appetite and sleeping, and epistaxis have been recorded in cyanide-exposed workers.
    1. Functional changes in hearing, loss of appetite, headache, weakness, nausea, dizziness, upper respiratory tract irritation, and dermatoses have been described in chronically exposed workers.
  1. Potassium cyanide exposure may produce death within minutes. IMMEDIATELY BEGIN ADMINISTERING 100% OXYGEN. OBTAIN THE CYANIDE ANTIDOTE KIT AND PREPARE IT FOR USE.
    1. Lesser exposures may produce nausea, vomiting, palpitations, confusion, hyperventilation, anxiety, and vertigo. Severe hypoxic signs in the absence of cyanosis suggest the diagnosis. Patients have survived potentially lethal ingestions with supportive care only, and the absence of a rapidly deteriorating course does not exclude the diagnosis.
    1. Cyanosis is generally a late finding and does not occur until the stage of circulatory collapse and apnea. Initially the patient may experience flushing, tachycardia, tachypnea, headache, and dizziness. This may progress to agitation, stupor, coma, apnea, generalized convulsions, pulmonary edema, bradycardia, hypotension, and death.
  1. Percutaneous absorption has been rarely said to result in systemic toxicity, although most such cases have involved either complete immersion in cyanide-salt solutions or large-area burns with molten cyanide.
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