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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

744                                             MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

It is a heavy, colourless gas, possessing a pungent, suffocating smell of burning
sulphur and dissolving freely in water. An aqueous solution containing 5 per cent by
weight of sulphur dioxide is a B.P.C. preparation, known as Acidum sulphurosum, the
dose being 30 minims to 60 minims.

Sulphur dioxide is a powerful antiseptic and disinfectant, formerly used for fumi-
gating infected rooms and furniture. It is now used in industry as a refrigerant and as
a bleaching agent, and is also used in a very small quantity for the preservation of foods,
particularly citrus fruit juices. It is very destructive to vegetable life, and intensely
poisonous to mammalian and insect life.

Symptoms.— When inhaled in the pure state, it acts as an irritant to the air-passages,
causing immediately coughing and sneezing, accompanied by a feeling of suffocation,
spasm of the glottis, dyspnoea, opacity of the cornea, cyanosis and convulsions. It may
cause bronchitis, broncho-pneumonia, and even oedema of the larynx and lungs. Even
in dilutions of 5 parts per 10,000 of air, it produces sneezing, coughing and lachrymation.
Habit produces a marked tolerance for this gas. Lehman found that air containing from
0.03 to 0.04 gramme per thousand did not affect workmen more severely than did from
0.01 to 0.02 those unaccustomed to breathing the gas.*9

When an aqueous solution of sulphur dioxide is taken internally, it is easily oxi-
dized to sulphuric acid, and has, therefore, a local corrosive action. It has also a remote
action on the blood, causing its reduction and decomposition, as shown by the formation
of hsematin with a brown colouration.

Treatment— Immediate removal into fresh air and artificial respiration. Give oxygen
inhalation, and cardiac and respiratory stimulants if necessary. Antibiotics should be
given to avoid pneumonia. Masks containing a wet sponge should be used as a prophy-
lactic measure by workmen who are exposed to the fumes of this gas. There should be
proper ventilation, and milk alkalies should be used as antidotes.

Post-mortem Appearances.— These are chiefly due to asphyxia. The blood has a
strikingly dark colour, and has an acid reaction. The lungs may be cedematous*

Tests. — Starch-paper moistened with a solution of iodic acid turns blue on exposure
to sulphur dioxide. One part of the gas contained in 3,000 parts of air responds to this
test.

Medico-Legal Points. — The pungent, suffocating odour of the gas prevents the occur-
rence of accidental poisoning. Sulphur dioxide has been used for murder only once, and
sulphurous acid only once for suicidal purpose.20

'   ,                                                     WAR GASES

The term, "gas", as used in chemical warfare, denotes a chemical compound,
whether gaseous, liquid or solid, which is employed to produce poisonous or irritant
effects on the enemy forces or even the civil population. The gases which are likely
to be used during the time of war may be described under the following heads : —

I. Vesicants or Blistering Gases. II Asphyxiants or Lung Irritants. Ill, Lachry-
mators or Tear Gases. IV. Sternutators or Nasal Irritants. V. Paralysants,

L Vesicants or Blistering Gases.— These are chiefly mustard gas (dichlordiethyl sul-
phide), and lewisite (chlorovinyl-dichlorarsine) . Mustard gas is also known as "Yellow
Cross " or " Yperite ", and was largely used during the Great Wars. Mustard gas is a
heavy, dark- coloured, oily liquid, having a mustard-like or garlicky odour and giving
off a vapour at the ordinary temperature of the air. It is almost insoluble in water and
evaporates slowly so thaMt persists for a long time after it is discharge^. It dissolves
freely in paraffin, petrol, ether, benzene, rubber, alcohol, acetone, and carbon bisulphide
and readily penetrates clothing, leather, wood, bricks, etc.

Mustard gas is extremely dangerous both in the liquid and in the vaporous state.
It is insidious in its onset and produces poisonous symptoms usually after the lapse of
two or three hours and occasionally after twenty-four or forty-eight hours, It causes
irritation of the eyes with profuse lachrymation and nasal secretion, laryngitis involving
the trachea and bronchi, nausea, vomiting and gastric pain. It enters deeply into the
skin through the clothes and produces intense inching, redness, vesication and ulceration.
It attacks chiefly the axilla*, groins, perineum and scrotum which are moist due to per-
spiration. Owing to secondary infection these ulcers are often difficult to heal The skin
01 the exposed parts, such as the face, neck and hands is also affected.

In severe cases there may be oedema of the eyelids, suppuration and destruction
of the conjunctiva, cornea and even the eye-ball. Death may occur from septic bron-
chitis, or broncho-pneumonia.

340 ' 1893' XVm> P- 18° ; Peterson' Haines and Webster, Leg. Med.

To:cikoloaie Fun& WW' 1912> P- 147; Peterson,