COPPER 535 4. A bright steel needle or piece of iron wire, if introduced into a solution of a copper salt acidulated with a few drops of hydrochloric acid, becomes covered with a red coating of metallic copper after some time. 5. Feigl's Test.—A few drops of dilute zinc nitrate solution and 1 or 2 cc. of Feigl's reagent added to a neutral or faintly acid solution give a pink, purple or deep violet precipitate, if copper is present. Feigl's reagent is prepared by dissolving 8 grammes of mercuric chloride and 9 grammes of ammonium thiocyanate in 100 cc. of distilled water. Medico-Legal Points.—1. Copper as a metal is not poisonous. Copper coins, when swallowed, may remain in the stomach or in the intestines for days without producing any poisonous symptoms. However, when alloyed with other metals and reduced to a fine powdery state, copper may act as a poison. All the copper salts are poisonous. 2, The blue or green colour and the strong metallic taste of copper salts prevent their use for homicidal purposes, though in India copper sulphate is known to have been used homicidally mixed with powdered glass, sweetmeat or some other article of food. In his annual report for the year 1935, the Chemical Examiner, Madras, records a case in which a woman of immoral character put copper sulphate in the food intended for her husband. The husband tasted the food and noticed a peculiar burning sensation in the mouth as well as the peculiar colour of the food. The matter was reported to the police, and the woman was prosecuted and sentenced to undergo eight months7 rigorous imprisonment. A case S3 is also recorded where a boy, aged about 7 years, died from poisoning by copper sulphate given to him in peras by the man who wanted to marry his widowed mother. The widow had refused to marry the man saying that she would remain a widow for the rest of her life for the sake of her only son. Copper sulphate has been used, though rarely, as a cattle poison. In his annual report for the year 1907, the Chemical Examiner of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh mentions a case in which copper sulphate was found in a piece of rag stated to have been inserted into the rectum of a buffalo. In his annual report for the year 1919, the Chemical Analyser of Bombay also mentions some cases of cattle poisoning by copper sulphate. Suicidal cases are occasionally met with. Sometimes, copper sulphate and copper subacetate are taken internally with a view to procuring abortion. Accidental cases occur from swallowing copper sulphate by mistake or from contamination of food due to the formation of verdigris resulting from the action of vegetable acids on copper cooking vessels which are dirty and have not been properly tinned. The author has seen two cases of accidental poisoning. In one case a child playfully swallowed a big crystal of copper sulphate. In the other case an adult woman took it by mistake for a condiment. Both recovered after having suffered from pain in the stomach, vomiting and purging. In his annual report for the year 1940, the Chemical Examiner, Madras, records three cases of accidental poisoning by copper sulphate. In one case a young man found a blue lump on the floor of a latrine and ate it thinking it to be candy. In the second case a man found a packet containing cashew nut kernels mixed with blue stone pieces in front of a cinema and devoured the lot in spite of the disagreeable taste. In the third case a person found a packet of blue stone lying on the road and ate the contents. Vomiting ensued in each of these individuals, and recovery occurred after their removal to hospital. In his annual report for the year 1949, the Chemical Examiner, Bengal, quotes a case in which a village quack administered copper sulphate 83. U.P. and C.P. Chenu Exam. Annual Rep., 1940, p. 5.