3. Caustic potash gives a white precipitate, soluble in excess, which reappears on
adding ammonium chloride, but not on adding hydrogen sulphide.
4. Ammonium carbonate gives a white, fiocculent precipitate.
5. A blue incrustation is formed on charcoal when heated with a solution of cobalt
Medico-Legal Points.—Aluminium is present in many vegetables, in many fruits in
milk, in eggs, and in sea food and probably in the tissues of the human and anirnal
bodies. Aluminium vessels used for cooking purposes are regarded as quite harmless
It is possible that slow poisoning may occur among almunium workers. A case?*
is recorded in which a man working with the metal suffered from loss of memory
tremors, jerky movements, impaired co-ordination, chronic constipation and incontinence
Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salts), MgSO*, 7H2(X—This forms small colourless
rhombic prisms, and dissolves readily in water. Its solution has a saline, bitter taste'
and acts as a purgative. The pharmacopceial dose is 30 to 240 grains. When taken in
excess, it acts as an irritant poison, It is contained in the official preparation of I^Tistura
sennte composite (Black draught), dose, 1 to 2 fluid ounces and is an ingredient of
mistura magnesii hydroxidi (Cream of magnesia), dose, 60 to 240 minims.
Symptoms.—These commence in less than half-an-hour after swallowing a poisonous
dose. They are burning pain in the stomach and intestines, nausea, vomiting, purging
dilated pupils, paralysis of the lower limbs, tetanic spasms, suppression of urine, collapse
and death from respiratory failure.
Sometimes, after swallowing a large dose, the patient becomes pale, feels giddy-
falls down and dies from syncope. A Christian boy,72 7 years old, was given in the earhr
morning 2 ounces of magnesium sulphate as an aperient and had vomited it up. Ue ^ j
again been given another dose of 2 ounces about 2 hours later and had again Vomited
but one hour later he became unconscious and was removed to the J.J. Hospital, Bombav*
where he was found unconscious and cyanosed with dilated pupils reacting sluggigjjy
shallow respirations, and a feeble pulse. He died in less than an hour. A case occurred
to Dr. Khambolja of Kander in which a woman, about 20 years old, felt giddy soon
after swallowing a dose of 1J ounces of magnesium, sulphate in the morning of the first
October 1948, became unconscious and died within two hours. The Chemical Analvser
Bombay, detected magnesium sulphate in the viscera usually preserved for chemical
When injected into the blood, magnesium sulphate depresses the heart, paralyses
the central nervous system and causes death from paralysis of respiration.
Fatal Dose.—One ounce has caused death, though the same quantity may be given
as a purgative. Two ounces have caused the death of a boy, ten years old.
Fatal Period.—Death occurs rapidly from a few minutes to two or three hours
Death occurred in 60 hours in a case where 310 cc. of a 4 per cent solution of magne-
sium sulphate had been injected subcutaneously.73
Treatment.—Empty the stomach; give stimulants and treat the symptoms. Subcu-
taneous or intravenous administration of calcium salts has been recommended, as calcium
salts have an antagonistic action on the inhibitory effect of magnesium sulphate.
Post-mortem Appearances.—Signs of irritation of the gastro-intestinal tract may be
.Chemical Tests.—1. A solution of sodium phosphate in the presence of ammonium
chloride and ammonia gives a white, crystalline precipitate, soluble in dilute hydro-
2. Caustic potash gives a white precipitate.
3. A rosy pink incrustation on charcoal, if heated with cobalt nitrate.
Medico-Legal Points.—Poisoning by magnesium sulphate is rare, but a few cases of
accidental poisoning have occurred from large doses of magnesium sulphate taken as a
Injected into the spinal canal magnesium sulphate induces ansesthesia, and alleviates
Magnesium sulphate closely resembles oxalic acid and zinc sulphate; hence the
latter salts have frequently been mistaken for the_ former.
Magnesium sulphate is chiefly excreted in the urine, rendering it alkaline.,
71. J. Spofforth, Lancet, 1921, Vol. I, p. 1301.
72. Bombay Chem. Analyser's Annual Heport, 1930, p. 4.
73. Curtis, Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., 1921, Vol. 77, p. 1492.