Hydrocyanic Acid

Definition - What does Hydrocyanic Acid mean?

Hydrocyanic Acid is an aqueous hydrogen cyanide solution that is highly volatile. It is basically a colorless and an extremely poisonous liquid; its boiling point is slightly above room temperature. The acid was discovered by K.W. Scheele in 1782. It has density of 0.688g/cm3 at 20° C, a freezing point of -10° C and boiling point of 25.7° C. A mixture of the acid vapors and air explodes when ignited; it yields H2O, N2 and CO2 when it burns with air.

Petropedia explains Hydrocyanic Acid

Also known as prussic acid, hydrogen cyanide and formonitrile, Hydrocyanic Acid is a weak acid that gets decomposed upon storage in the presence of impurities. The organic derivatives of the acid are called nitriles and the salts are known as cyanides. During the processing of ore, deratization, galvanization of metals and disinsectization, the poisoning of the acid and its compounds takes place.

When it enters into the human body through the respiratory system, it blocks the respiratory enzyme cytochrome oxidase and results in the starvation of oxygen in the tissues. The symptoms of Hydrocyanic Acid poisoning could be the irritation of asthenia, mucous membranes, vertigo, vomiting and nausea. These symptoms are followed by severe respiratory disorders like infrequent breathing, deep breathing, and painful dyspnea. It finally leads to slow breathing and respiratory arrest.

The severe or chronic poisoning can be judged by headaches, low arterial pressure and fatigue. In electrocardiograms (ECGs) the changes can be observed and the sugar level reduced in the blood, resulting in an increase in the content of other elements such as lactic acid and hemoglobin. The victims are required to be given immediate first aid and taken to fresh air. To avoid poisoning, preventive measures should be taken which include the protective garment usage, observation of the safety rules and periodic medical-examinations.

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