Skip to main content

Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

See other formats

£62                                               MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

Naphthalene is chiefly used in the manufacture of indigo and certain azo-dyes, as
a repellent to moths and as a deodorant in closets. It is used in medicine as an intestinal
disinfectant and as a vermifuge, the dose being 3 to 12 grains.

Symptoms.—Taken internally, naphthalene produces headache, nausea, vomiting,
abdominal pain, staggering gait, pain on micturition with dark brown urine containing
albumin and haemoglobin, drowsiness, muscular twitchings, cyanosis, coma and death.
Jaundice, hEemolytic anemia and acute nephritis may be present.

A Mahomedan male, who took some naphthalene in place of an Indian sweet,
suffered from severe jaundice, marked anaemia, hyperthermia, hcmiplegia and coma. He
died three days after swallowing the poison. It is possible that, in the metabolism of
naphthalene, naphthylamine (an ammo-derivative) was formed and was responsible for
the rise of temperature to 103°F.^7

Inhaled as a vapour, naphthalene causes chiefly malaise, headache, vomiting and
dermatitis. Continued inhalation of the vapour emanating from naphthalene sprinkled
on bed clothes as a moth powder may produce poisoning symptoms,

Fatal Dose and Fatal Period.—Not known. About 26 to 40 grains of naphthalene
may prove fatal to children, but recovery may occur from larger doses. Death may take
place in two to three days.

Treatment.—Wash out the stomach and administer saline purgatives, since the drug
is absorbed slowly. Avoid fats and castor oil, which dissolve it.

Post-mortem Appearances.—The skin may be yellow, The gastric mucous mem-
brane may be yellow, congested and inflamed. The kidneys may be found congested or
inflamed. The other viscera are congested. The larynx and trachea may contain frothy,
yellow mucus.

Chemical Analysis.—Naphthalene may be separated by distillation with steam, and
extracting the distillate with ether. The ethereal solution thus obtained forms a yellow
crystalline naphthalene picrate with picric acid.

Medico-Legal Points.—Accidental cases of poisoning by naphthalene have occurred
from the inhalation of its vapour, from its internal administration or from its applica-
tion to wounds and among children who have swallowed naphthalene balls, A case
occurred to Dr. Vyas3 in which a boy of 2 years died on the third day after he had
swallowed a naphthalene ball (moth ball) weighing about 40 grains. In this case the
symptoms supervened two days after the ingestion of the ball, when castor oil was
aoWnistered. The patient soon collapsed, and became comatose with dilated pupils.
The urine contained albumin, blood and hyaline and epithelial casts,

Naphthalene has been taken with a view to committing suicide. A caseflft is
recorded in which a Mahomedan male committed suicide by taking naphthalene, The
•chemical examination revealed the presence of naphthol and not naphthalene in the
stomach washings, in the urine and in the viscera.

Naphthalene is oxidized in the tissues to beta-naphthol which is then excreted in
the urine in combination with glycuronic and sulphuric acids,


This is one of the constituents of coal-tar naphtha, and is obtained by the fractional
distillation of the latter. It is a colourless, volatile liquid, and has a suffocating, dis-
agreeable odour, resembling that of coal-gas. It is highly inflammable, and gives of!
a vapour which is explosive when mixed with air. It is insoluble in water, but mixes
with alcohol, chloroform and ether. It is used in " dry-cleaning ", and is also used exten-
sively as a solvent for India-rubber. It acts as a gastric irritant and as a narcotic poison
which, when inhaled or swallowed, produces toxic symptoms.

Symptoms.—When inhaled as a vapour, the symptoms are dizziness, flushing of the
face, ringing in. the ears, nausea, vomiting, cyanosis, dyspnoea, delirium, convulsions,
coma and death. When the vapour is inhaled in concentrated form, coma may super-
vene at once, and death may result in a few minutes. A concentration of 19,000 parts
per million of the atmosphere is sufficient to cause death.

When taken by the mouth, the symptoms are a burning pain in the stomach, nausea,
vomiting, giddiness, flushing of the face, restlessness, excitement, dilated pupils, rapid
^tT^ pu^e> slow and laboured respiration, cold, clammy skin, stupor, coma and
death from respiratory failure. Twitchings of the muscles, convulsions, hallucinations
and delirium may occur in some cases.

Fatal Dose.—The medicinal dose is 5 to 10 minims. Three or four drachms have
produced toxic symptoms, while one ounce has caused death.

97.   N. R. Konar, H. K. Roy and M. N. De, IncL Med: Gaz;, Dec. 1939, to 723."

98.   Beng. Chem. Examiner's Annual Re£.; 1939, pp. 16-17'.'           *