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Cyanide Poisoning (cont.)

How can cyanide poisoning be prevented?

  • Childproofing a home is essential for all households with young children, particularly if a parent or caregiver works in an industry that uses cyanide.
  • Strict work safety regulations must be followed to prevent occupational exposure. Employees must leave all chemicals in the laboratory or factory. Cyanide can be absorbed through the lungs, stomach, and skin.
  • Standard home fire precautions should be taken, including installation of smoke detectors, avoidance of space heaters, halogen lamps, and not smoking in bed.
  • If you are concerned that someone you know is depressed or has voiced suicidal thoughts, take this as a serious true cry for help and encourage this person to seek medical care immediately. Every community has a suicide prevention system or hotline that can help arrange psychiatric care, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK; 1-800-273-8255.

What is the prognosis for a person who has suffered from cyanide poisoning?

It is difficult to determine prognosis with cyanide exposure, but reliable predictors of outcome are how sick the patient was when first brought to the hospital, and how quickly he or she was brought to the hospital. If timely medical attention is given and the patient is still awake and talking, the prognosis is usually very good. There is a chance that delayed neurological problems may develop.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "HYDROGEN CYANIDE (AC) : Systemic Agent." Updated: Jun 01, 2016.

Desai, S. MD., et al. "Cyanide Poisoning." UpToDate. Updated: Sep 29, 2015.

Leybell, I., MD. "Cyanide Toxicity." Medscape. Updated: Dec 07, 2015.

National Capital Poison Center. "Ipecac."

NOAA; Cameo Chemicals. "Potassium Cyanide."

South Dakota State University. "Chemists develop device that detects cyanide poisoning in 70 seconds." October 23, 2015.

The EXIT euthanasia blog. "An unusual death by cyanide." Posted: Jul 12, 2012.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Toxicity, Cyanide »

Cyanide, one of the most rapidly acting lethal poisons known to humankind, was a main constituent of Earth's primordial atmosphere and probably played an important role in the development of life on Earth.

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