566 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
Treatment. Emetics or stomach tube.
Post-mortem Appearances. Not characteristic.
Sodium Nitrite, NaNO2. This occurs in white or slightly yellow deliquescent, crystal-
line granules, having a saline taste and dissolving in 1.5 parts of water. It is used in
medicine in \ to 2-grain doses as a remedy for asthma, angina pectons, Bright s disease
and cardio- vascular degeneration.
Symptoms. Giddiness, headache, throbbing all over the body, cyanosed face, nausea,
vomiting, diarrhoea, muscular weakness, feeling of anxiety, prostration with cold extre-
mities, hurried breathing, and unconsciousness with convulsions. Dr. V. Rao, Chemical
Examiner to the Government of Madras State, mentions a case in which a man " experi-
enced reeling sensation and derangement of the brain, could not stand or gaze at lamp
light, made incoherent statements, and became unconscious some time later.^1
Fatal Dose. Three grains have produced alarming symptoms. From experiments
conducted on frogs and dogs the Chemical Examiner, Madras, has calculated that about
30 grains of sodium nitrite would probably prove fatal to the average adult man.82
Fatal Period. The usual fatal period is about half to three hours. Three members
of a family died in 2 hours after taking sodium nitrite in mistake for common salt.83
The longest period is about 8 hours.
Treatment. Use the stomach tube or give emetics. Keep the patient warm in bed.
Inject hypodermically adrenaline or ephedrine. Use artificial respiration, and give oxygen
Post-mortem Appearances. The stomach is congested and may be vascular in
patches. The liver and spleen are congested. The kidneys are generally congested, but
may sometimes show degenerative changes. The brain is cedematous. The lungs are
o=dematous. The blood is chocolate-coloured owing to the conversion of haemoglobin
Medico -Legal Points. Sodium nitrite along with potassium nitrite is extensively
used by weavers in the dyeing of cloths in villages in South India, and is sold without
restrictions, so that cases of nitrite poisoning have become frequent in recent years.
The following two cases of poisoning by sodium nitrite are reported to the author by the
Chemical Examiner, Hyderabad-Deccan : -j
1. In June 1940, a Hindu male, aged 22 years, and of Nalgonda District, committed
suicide by taking sodium nitrite. An hour later he was trembling all over, with fists
clenched and shouting incoherently. He vomited once and passed two stools. He was
partly unconscious and died in six hours.
2. In September 1940, a woman of Nalgonda District gave to her co-wife half-an-
ounce of sodium nitrite mixed in a decoction of anisi seeds. Soon afterwards she
vomited once and passed one liquid motion. She then became unconscious and died
in three hours.
In his private communication to the author the Chemical Examiner, Bengal, reports
the following accidental case of poisoning which occurred in the year 1946: A Maho-
medan girl, 9 years old, died after eating some vegetable cooked with nitrites of sodium
and potassium in mistake for common salt.
In his annual report for the year 1949, the Chemical Examiner,84 Madras, cites two
homicidal cases of poisoning by sodium nitrite. In one case a man mixed sodium nitrite
in coffee and offered it to his concubine. She took some of it and gave the rest to her
niece, aged 6 years, who shared it with her brother, 3 years old. All the three became
ill and died. In^ the other case a woman mixed I.D. arrack with a white powder contain-
ing sodium nitrite given to her by her paramour, and sold it to a man. The man took
it to his two friends, and all the three drank it, and died within a short time.
Nitrite is easily decomposed and destroyed in the system, and as such it is some-
times not detected in the viscera usually preserved for chemical analysis even in cases
of definite nitrite poisoning.
This is a white metal, closely resembling zinc in its chemical reactions, but its
compounds are more poisonous.
Poisoning may occur from the inhalation of cadmium dust or fumes or from the
mgestion of a cadmium salt.
- i, 8--- Tke symptoms develop usuaUy within four to eight hours after the
inhalation of the dust or fumes, and are characterized by sneezing, sore throat, irritant
81. Private communication dated November 18, 1950, to the Author
82. Annual Report, 1939, r>. 7.
83. Phwr. Jour., VoL H, 1936, p. 214.
84. See also his Reports for 1950 and 1951, pp. 3 and 4 respectively.