Skip to main content

Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

See other formats

MERCURY                                                            523

Acid vegetables and fruits may extract antimony from cheap enamelled
vessels ; hence they should not be cooked in such vessels.48 Hellen Liikis
reports the cases of three families in which all the members were stricken
down with sickness and diarrhoea; investigation showed that the symptoms
came on shortly after eating rhubarb pie baked in a cheap new enamelled
pie dish.49

Tartar emetic is given to confirmed drunkards as a cure for the habit,
and accidental poisoning has occurred from an overdose thus given.

Tartar emetic acts as a depressant to the heart muscle; hence even if
given in medicinal doses it may prove fatal to the persons who are aged,
infirm and debilitated from disease, while these doses would not have any
deleterious effect on strong, healthy individuals.

Cases of accidental poisoning sometimes occur from chloride of antimony
as it is used in arts as a bronzing liquid.

Method of Administration.—Symptoms of poisoning have occurred not
only from its administration by the mouth, but from its external application
in the form of a powder or an ointment to the unbroken skin, from its use
as an enema and from its absorption into the system by wearing a cloth to
colour which tartar emetic was used as a mordant.

Elimination of Antimony.—By the vomit and purging it promotes, anti-
mony is largely expelled immediately after it is swallowed, and is eliminated
rapidly by the kidneys after it is absorbed into the system. It is also elimi-
nated by the mucous membrane of the stomach even if administered by any
other channel than the mouth. Before it is eliminated it is deposited into
the liver, spleen, kidneys and long bones. It is also excreted in the bile and

Antimony, like arsenic, has a preservative effect on the bodies of per-
sons who die from its poisoning by repeated small doses administered for a
prolonged period. For example, in two cases of exhumation the bodies were
found in a remarkable state of preservation after a burial of twenty-one
months and five years.50 On analysis antimony was found to be present in
the internal organs, such as the stomach, liver, kidneys, intestine and even
the brain.

Antimony is not a normal constituent of the body, nor is it met with in
any of the food articles. Hence any attempt based on these grounds to
explain its presence in the tissues must necessarily fail. The poison, if
present in the body, must have been administered—there is no other possible


Mercury or quicksilver is a liquid metal having a bright silvery lustre.
It is easily converted into the form of a dull grey powder when shaken up
with oil or triturated with sugar, chalk or lard. The process is known as
deadening, and is used in preparing mercurial ointment and emplastrum.
The metal is not acted upon by hydrochloric acid. It is slightly dissolved
by dilute cold sulphuric acid but completely dissolved by strong sulphuric
and nitric acids. It is a pharmocopceial preparation, and is called Hydrargy-
rum, the non-official dose being J to 3 grains by the mouth and J to 1 grain
by intramuscular injection. The other official preparations of the metal

1. Hydrargyrum cum creta (Grey powder).—It is a greyish-blue
powder and contains 33 per cent of mercury. The dose is 1 to 5 grains. If

48.    Miller, Jour. Home Econ., 1916, VTEI, p. 361.

49.    Brit Med. Jour., April 1, 1933, p. 581.

50.    Stevenson, Brit, Med. Jour., April 11, 1903, p. 873.