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Cyanide is an ion with the formula of CN-, or a group with a formula of CN. It is a pseudohalogen, and forms a number of compounds, both organic and inorganic, many of them are extremely toxic.

Cyanide compounds

Cyanide complexes

Other compounds containing the cyanide group

Cyanide toxicity

Cyanide compounds are potent blood agents, particularly the infamous potassium cyanide. However, there are a number of antidotes.

  • Methylene blue, a general purpose antidote against blood agents, 50-100 ml of 1% solution intravenously. However, this only temporarily binds cyanide and borrows more time for a more permanent solution.
  • Sodium thiosulfate, 50 ml of a 250 mg/ml solution intravenously. This gradually binds cyanide into thiocyanate, which can be harmlessly purged from the body. This should be used after treatment with methylene blue, to thwart the cyanide permanently.
  • Glucose, which has a similar, if weaker effect. Injecting it intravenously, or consuming sugar-rich food, is recommended before you start working with cyanides, to provide you with increased resistance for a time.

Note that cyanide poisoning is an exclusively acute condition with no chronic effects. It means, if you successfully thwart it, no long-term repercussions will follow. However, it is a very rapidly advancing condition, so in most cases there is no time to wait for medical attention, unless you have a personal crew of paramedics living at your home. This is the reason why you should know the antidotes and how to use them yourself.


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