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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

516                                              MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

ceans, oysters and other shell-fish.38 Prom investigations carried out on
Indian foodstuffs, Bagchi and Bose have "been able to show the presence of
arsenic in amounts varying from a trace to 6.4 mg. per kilo in animal foods,
such as chicken, goat flesh, beef, beef liver and various kinds of fish and in
traces only in vegetable foods, such as rice, wheat, flour, dais (pulses),
potato and all green vegetables, e.g. cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, patal,
brinjals, and lady's fingers.39 Hence arsenic may be taken into the human
economy in very minute quantities along with the articles of food. In some
cases it may be absorbed into the system from medicine, water or even air.
Recent researches have shown that arsenic derived from the food ingested
is found normally in human tissues and excretions, and Billeter and
E. Marfurt40 claim to have found appreciable quantities of arsenic in all the
organs examined, and affirm that the body of an adult person contains pro-
bably about Q.I mg. of arsenic.

From investigations carried out in Calcutta, Bagchi and Ganguli41 have
found that arsenic is present on an average from 0.02 to 0.03 mg. per litre
in the urine and about ten times this quantity in the faeces of persons belong-
ing to different communities who do not expose themselves to any trade or
industry connected with arsenic nor take any medicine containing any
arsenic preparation. They have also found arsenic in human tissues. The
liver contains the largest amount (2 mg. per kilo). Bone and tooth come
next. The amount found in the blood is negligible. Foetal tissues contain no
arsenic, while the placenta is fairly rich in arsenic. It is, therefore, neces-
sary that a medical practitioner ought to be very cautious in affirming that
death was due to arsenic poisoning in a case where a very small amount, a
minute fraction of a grain, is detected in the viscera, unless some of the
characteristic symptoms and post-mortem appearances of arsenic poisoning
were present. In a murder case where about l/5th grain of arsenic was
found in the viscera of the victim, Justice Young of the Allahabad High
Court acquitted the accused on the ground that this amount might be due
to the food that the deceased took or that might be the normal arsenic-
content of the viscera.

Arsenic is sometimes found as an accidental impurity in some medicines,
such as bismuth nitrate, sodium sulphate, magnesium sulphate and glycerin.
A firm of chemists at Bradford was fined for selling glycerin which was
found to contain arsenic to the amount of 1/13 grain to the pound. The
Medical Officer of Health for Bradford stated in his evidence that a Royal
Commission had recommended local authorities to take action in cases where
arsenic was found to exist in glycerin to a greater amount than 1/100 grain
to the pound.42

9. Post-mortem Imbibition of Arsenic.—In a criminal charge of arseni-
cal poisoning the plea is sometimes raised by the defence that the poison
was introduced into the stomach after death, and post-mortem imbibition
occurred in the tissues. Such a presumption is certainly possible, but the
transudation of poison through the organs in such cases seeks an anatomical
course; hence the organs of the left side are affected before those of the
right. Besides, the fact of ante- or post-mortem imbibition of arsenic canJoe
ascertained by examining the condition of the mucous membrane of rae
stomach and duodenum. The signs of inflammation and ulceration, being

38. Swedish Commission, Lancet, Sep. 8, 1923, p. 531; Willcox, Trans, Med.-Leg.
Society, Vol. XXIH, p. 152; Chapman, Analyst, Vol. LI, 1926, p. 548

^ ^ ScJ?n<S Congress Proceedings, 1935, p. 411; Patna Jour, of Med,, Jan. 1936,
PP. 7-8; Bagchi, K. N. and Ganguly, H. D., lud. Med. Gaz., Dec. 1941, p. 720.

5  ?4^°^ Act^ 1923> 6> pp- 78°-784 J Jour- of State Med., Jan 1924, p. 41.

41.   Ind. Med. Gaz., Aug. 1937, p. 477.

42.   Brit. Med. Jour., July 15, 1906, p. 158.