ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Chemical Warfare - What is Ricin?

Updated on March 31, 2018
Diana Grant profile image

I am interested in the world around me, human rights, current affairs, psychology, law, justice, and philosophical and ethical questions

Ricin (Ricinus Communis)

Source

Where ricin comes from and the effects of ricin poisoning

On April 16th 2013 and April 17th 2013 suspicious letters addressed to Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and President Barack Obama respectively were intercepted at Washington’s off-site mail facility and tested positive for traces of the lethal poison, ricin.

What are the Symptoms of Ricin Poisoning?

About three to twelve hours after initial exposure, the victim’s symptoms would include stomach pains, fever and coughing.

If ricin is eaten, the victim would suffer vomiting, stomach ache, bloody diarrhoea, and gastroenteritis within hours, and, over the next few days, would be likely to suffer dehydration and low blood pressure.

If ricin is inhaled, it would cause damage to the lungs and pulmonary oedema (swelling and fluid in the lungs).

The victim might also suffer seizures and problems related to the central nervous system.

A lethal dose would probably cause the victim to die within five days. Recovery may be possible if the victim survives that period.

Ricin Seeds or Beans

Source

The reason I have written this article is because many people must be wondering precisely what ricin is, and what the effect of ricin poisoning is.

Ricin is a slow acting poison derived from the Castor Oil Plant (Latin name Ricinus Communis). A few grains of ricin powder (1 milligram) is enough to kill an adult if it is inhaled or ingested and just 500 micrograms would be lethal if injected. Ricin works by irrevocably damaging/inactivating the ribosomes which synthesise protein in cells, and, being very powerful, can seriously harm major body organs. If ricin comes into contact with the skin or eyes, it would cause pain but is not normally life-threatening.

The Castor Oil Plant also known as Castor Bean Plant is a fast-growing half-hardy ornamental shrub, normally grown from its large seeds. In its native tropical climate it will grow into a tree about 25 ft – 40 ft high, with attractive reddish leaves and red pom-pom flowers. It is these seeds which are highly poisonous. Castor oil is derived commercially from the seeds and ricin is derived from the mash which is left after the oil is extracted. Ricin is a serious danger because it is so easy to obtain.

At present there is no known antidote to poisoning by ricin, which can be delivered by powder, pill or a mist.

Georgi Markov was assassinated

Famous Poisoning Cases:

In 1978, Georgi Markov, who was an outspoken Bulgarian dissident journalist working in London, was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police because he was criticizing the Bulgarian government. He reported feeling a sharp pain after someone with an umbrella knocked into him in the street. He became ill and died a few days later. Suspecting foul play, his body was taken to the British Ministry of Defence where it was examined in an autopsy at the special poison branch and it became clear that the umbrella had been modified with compressed gas to fire a small pellet, which had been contaminated with ricin, into his leg. The Russian KGB were also implicated.

Earlier, in 1971 the great writer and Soviet dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, suffered poisoning symptoms, believed to be from ricin. Fortunately he survived his encounter with the KGB.

Another poisoning case with Russian connections was that of an ex-KGB spy, Alexander Litvinenko, who was working for the BBC and living in Muswell Hill, London, at the time of his death in 2006. On this occasion the death was caused not by ricin but from polonium-210 radiation poisoning.

Biological Warfare:

The USA and Canada have considered and experimented with the use of ricin as a biological weapon, either as a toxic dust or as a coating for bullets and shrapnel, but have not used it in war because it’s use is contrary to The Hague Convention 1899.

Russia is suspected of using ricin as a weapon, and of being involved in assassinations abroad, using ricin.

Al Qaeda is also suspected of experimenting with ricin for use in biological warfare. There was a false alarm in London in 2002, when newspapers reported wrongly that there had been an al Queda conspiracy to use it in the underground. Later, when the suspects' home in Wood Green was raided, no traces of ricin were discovered, but this was not disclosed to the public for several years, and the pervading sense of tension and anxiety was conveniently used used as political propaganda to justify war in Iraq

CNN News April 18 2013

Knowing what people are up against is always useful

Have you learned anything you didn't know before from this page about Ricin?

See results

You can Rate this Article About Ricin Here

Cast your vote for Chemical Warfare - What is Ricin?

More Information in This Popular YouTube Video About Deadly Poisons

Why can't people live in peace and express their opinions in a reasonable way? What do you think about Ricin?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      5 years ago from Central Texas

      Ricin is another horrible weapon the world must face today. You've definitely expanded my knowledge of this killer product and I thank you. Best/Sis

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      5 years ago from West By God

      I never knew about this poison and I am so glad you wrote about it and explained it. I did learn lots. Now they have done the bad side as in trying to use it in warfare, but there has to be a good side to it also and I do hope they try to use it to squash some nasty diseases that we have going around the world. Thanks for this hub. I voted it up and useful and interesting. I will spread it to my contacts for you.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      5 years ago from India

      Informative hub on Ricin, i really do not know much about the same. Thank you for the knowledge.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      HI diana, I had obviously heard about Ricin, but had no idea where it came from. To think it is such a simple little bean is terrifying really, and I had heard about the umbrella incident before but didn't realise that they had discovered ricin in a pellet pumped into his leg. we have seen this on tv over the last few days, scary stuff, and thanks for the info, at least now I understand what it means when someone gets it in the post, horrible, and yes why can't we all just live in peace?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)