What is the pathophysiology of cyanide chloride toxicity?

Updated: May 30, 2020
  • Author: Inna Leybell, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Miller, MD  more...
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Answer

Cyanogen chloride is used in mining and metalworking, and thus may be involved in an industrial accident. By nature of its chlorine moiety, cyanogen chloride causes irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract and potential delayed pulmonary toxicity similar to chlorine or phosgene gases. In high concentrations (eg, in enclosed spaces), this agent is rapidly acting and lethal, causing death within 6-8 minutes if inhaled at doses at or above its LCt50 of 11,000 mg/min/m3.

Defective cyanide metabolism due to rhodanese deficiency may explain development of Leber optic atrophy, leading to subacute blindness. Cyanide also may cause some of the adverse effects associated with chronic smoking, such as tobacco amblyopia.


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