Cyanide as a Weapon

The “blood agents” or tissue toxins act by destroying the ability of the blood and tissues to carry or process oxygen. Cyanide, an ancient compound, is the prototype agent in this group. These agents have long been considered a threat for use in terrorism.

Hydrogen cyanide is a colorless liquid which boils at 26 °C. The vapor is lighter than air and dissipates rapidly. Hydrogen cyanide is found in widespread industrial use.

The sodium and potassium salts of cyanides are used in metallurgy for the extraction of gold and silver from ores and the in the deposition of these metals on other products. When these cyanide salts are mixed with any acid, hydrogen cyanide gas is formed.

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