What is ricin?
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. If castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released ricin can cause injury. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans. It can be made in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.
How you could be exposed to ricin
â€¢It would take a deliberate act to make ricin and use it to poison people. Accidental exposure to ricin is highly unlikely, except through the ingestion of castor beans.
â€¢If made into a partially purified material or refined into a terrorist or warfare agent, ricin could be used to expose people through the air, food, or water.
â€¢In 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian writer and journalist who was living in London, died after he was attacked by a man with an umbrella. The umbrella had been rigged to inject a poison ricin pellet under Markovâ€™s skin.
â€¢In the 1940s the U.S. military experimented with using ricin as a possible warfare agent. In some reports ricin has possibly been used as a warfare agent in the 1980s in Iraq and more recently by terrorist organizations.
â€¢Ricin poisoning is not contagious. It cannot be spread from person to person through casual contact.
How ricin works
â€¢Ricin works by getting inside the cells of a personâ€™s body and preventing the cells from making the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and death may occur.
â€¢Effects of ricin poisoning depend on whether ricin was inhaled, ingested, or injected.http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ricin/index.htmlhttp://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asphttp://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-573 ... use-ricin/http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/