Rapid Response In Cases Of Smoke Poisoning

09/20/2012 - 11:30

The main cause of cyanide poisoning is smoke inhalation in closed spaces during fires. Cyanides, the salts of hydrocyanic acid, inhibit cellular respiration and may lead to coma or death. The rapid administration of a cyanide antidote is essential for successful treatment. Previously, detecting cyanide in the blood took up to an hour and could only be performed in the laboratory, a lengthy process that is poorly suited for emergency situations. As a result, emergency doctors and paramedics are forced to administer antidotes based solely on presumptive diagnoses. Now, chemists at the University of Zurich have succeeded in detecting blood cyanide in less than two minutes and without any laboratory equipment: UZH chemists Christine Mannel-Croise and Felix Zelder combined a cyanide color test with an extraction method to produce results quickly and reliably.

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