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What is cyanide?

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It's easy to assume that the word 'cyanide' is always synonymous with a deadly poison. Chemically speaking, however, cyanide describes a triple bond between carbon and nitrogen atoms. This carbon-nitrogen combination can be combined with metals or other elements to form any number of cyanide compounds or salts, such as potassium cyanide, sodium cyanide or hydrogen cyanide. Cyanide is also found naturally in sugars, cassava roots, large fruit pits and tobacco leaves. Different cyanide salts are used to process film, remove gold from ore, electroplate or clean metals, and make paper or plastic. In gas form, hydrogen cyanide is used to fumigate warehouses and the cargo areas of ships. Cyanide compounds can be stored in liquid, solid or gas form. The infamous 'suicide pills' used by spies were often derived from prussic acid, a form of hydrogen cyanide. Perhaps the most insidious use of cyanide occurred during World War II. Charged with the gruesome task of exterminating large groups of ... more
wisegeek.com
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Cyanide is usually found joined with other chemicals to form compounds. Examples of simple cyanide compounds are hydrogen cyanide, sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide. Certain bacteria, fungi, and algae can produce cyanide, and cyanide is found in a number of foods and plants. In certain plant foods, including almonds, millet sprouts, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other naturally-occurring compounds. However, the edible parts of plants that are eaten in the United States, including tapioca which is made from cassava roots, contain relatively low amounts of cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is a colorless gas with a faint, bitter, almondlike odor. Sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide are both white solids with a bitter, almond-like odor in damp air. Cyanide and hydrogen cyanide are used in electroplating, metallurgy, organic chemicals production, photographic ... more
atsdr.cdc.gov
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A. Cyanide refers to a group of compounds made of carbon and nitrogen. Cyanide solutions readily bond with gold, silver and other metals, which is why the mining industry uses it. Cyanide is usually stored and transported as a solid. It is stable when dry. Most cyanide solids will dissolve in water to produce toxic cyanide gas. Cyanide gas is colorless and smells like bitter almonds. Cyanide is produced naturally in minute, harmless quantities in several plants, such as in apple seeds, apricot pits, soil bacteria and species of invertebrate organisms. more
serconline.org
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(Pronounced si'uh-nide) Cyanide is usually found joined with other chemicals to form compounds. Examples of simple cyanide compounds are hydrogen cyanide, sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide. Cyanide can be produced by certain bacteria, fungi, and algae, and it is found in a number of foods and plants. In the body, cyanide combines with a chemical to form Vitamin B12. Cyanide occurs naturally in cassava roots, which are potato-like tubers of cassava plants grown in tropical countries. Hydrogen cyanide is a colorless gas with a faint, bitter, almond-like odor. Sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide are both white solids with a bitter, almond-like odor in damp air. Cyanide and hydrogen cyanide are used in electroplating, metallurgy, production of chemicals, photographic development, making plastics, fumigating ships, and some mining processes. What happens to cyanide when it enters the environment? Cyanide enters the environment from both natural processes and human industrial ... more
dsf.health.state.pa.us
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Cyanide is very poisonous. Cyanide can exist as a gas, liquid or white crystal powder. Cyanide is used in the electroplating industry, in metal cleaning operations, and as an industrial bug killer. Breathing the gas, eating the liquid or solid forms can make people suddenly lose consciousness or cause death. There are no common uses of cyanide in the home. Most cyanide in the environment results from industrial processes and from improper waste disposal. HOW ARE PEOPLE EXPOSED TO CYANIDE? Breathing: Cyanide gas can be found in industrial emissions and car exhaust, cigarette smoke and certain papers and plastics as they burn. It is also possible to breathe or eat cyanide dust when working with cyanide powder. If people use a contaminated water supply, they can breathe cyanide when they cook or shower with the water. Drinking/Eating: Cyanide is sometimes found in contaminated drinking water. People can be exposed when they drink contaminated water. People who handle contaminated soil ... more
dhs.wisconsin.gov
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