Archive for February 2010

The Poisoner’s Handbook

February 21, 2010, 3:19 pm

The Poisoner’s Handbook

In an absolutely must-read article, Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter Deborah Blum writes in Slate about a program pursued by the U.S. government in the 1920s and 30s intended to poison supplies of bootleg alcohol.  During prohibition, illegal liquor syndicates would steal massive amounts of industrial alcohol, which had been “denatured” — made non-potable — by the addition of poisons …

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The Poisoner’s Art

February 20, 2010, 5:04 pm

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning uses the recent case of London's "Curry Killer" to introduce in a brief history of the poisoner's art. Although many of their examples are familiar, I had not been aware that . . .

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K2: “This isn’t Jerry Garcia’s marijuana”

February 20, 2010, 3:28 pm

An article in the Columbia Missourian this week reported on a move in the Missouri House of Representatives to ban one of the ingredients in the synthetic cannabinoid K2.

K2 has an interesting history.  In the 1990s, scientists at Clemson University synthesized a number of cannabinoid analogues as part of their research into cannabinoid receptors.  They found that …

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Virtual tox sniff lab

February 20, 2010, 12:52 am

The Australian medical blog Life in the Fast Lane has posted a “Sniff a Poison” Challenge, designed to test our ability to identify poisons associated with specific aromas.

Speaking of “Life it the Fast Lane”, it just won 2009 Medical Weblog Award (host by in the category best clinical medblog.  Congratulations to Drs. Mike Cadogan and Chris …

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Nitric oxide cloud released over Texas

February 18, 2010, 6:51 pm

A leak from the Air Products and Chemicals plant, right of state highway 225 in Pasadena, Texas sent an orange cloud of nitric oxide drifting over the town last night. Residents were instructed to shelter-in-place, a protection technique that involves staying indoors with windows closed and ventilation systems off. This may often be safer than -- and avoid the inevitable confusion of -- mass evacuation of an area, especially when

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Major pediatric dosing errors

February 17, 2010, 10:45 pm


Tenfold therapeutic dosing errors in young children reported to U.S. poison control centers. Crouch BI et al. Am J Health-Syst Pharm 2009;66:1292-6.


This retrospective review examined data from the years 2000-2004 documenting cases reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The authors identified cases involving children less than 6 years of age who received an unintentional overdoses …

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Black tar heroin conquers small town America

February 17, 2010, 3:47 am

The Los Angeles Times has just published an excellent  three-part series describing how small, entrepreneurial, decentralized organizations of drug deals have radically lowered the street price of black tar heroin, and created demand for the product where there had been none before.  These organizations tend to do without guns and violence, avoid big cities where they would come into …

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Clinical features of ketamine abuse in Hong Kong

February 16, 2010, 7:30 pm


Emergency department presentation of ketamine abusers in Hong Kong: a review of 233 cases. Ng SH et al.  Hong Kong Med J 2010 Feb;16:6-11.

Full-text article

This retrospective review, from the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre, looked at 3 years worth of cases from 15 accident and emergency departments in which ketamine abuse was established either by history or urine …

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Tox Tunes #7 – Gin Bottle Blues

February 15, 2010, 8:43 am

The music of Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins influenced many later artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Townes Van Zandt, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  He recorded prolifically — Amazon lists 191 Hopkins albums.  Perhaps his most unusual disc is Freeform Patterns, on which Hopkins is backed by the rhythm section of the psychedelic rock band 13th Floor Elevators.…

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