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Articles from Aids To Forensic Medicine And Toxicology

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Duty Of Practitioner In Supposed Case Of Poisoning

Abortifacients

Nitric Acid

Death By Drowning


Lead And Its Preparations





=Acetate of Lead= (Sugar of Lead).--A glistening white powder or
crystalline mass. Soluble in water, with a sweetish taste. It is
practically the only lead salt which gives rise to acute symptoms, and
only when taken in large doses.

Symptoms.--Metallic taste, dryness in throat, intense thirst,
vomiting, colicky pains, cramps, cold sweat, constipation and scanty
urine, severe headache, convulsions.

Chronic lead-poisoning is liable to occur in those who handle lead in
any form--white-lead workers, paint manufacturers, plumbers, pottery
workers, etc.

In chronic lead-poisoning the most prominent symptoms are a blue line on
the gums, anæmia, emaciation, pallor, quick pulse, persistent
constipation, colic, cramps in limbs, and paralysis of the extensor
muscles, causing 'dropped hand.' May get saturnine encephalopathies,
of which intense headache, optic neuritis, and epileptiform convulsions,
are the most common. Albumin in urine, tendency to gout, and in women to
abortion.

Post-Mortem Appearances.--Inflamed mucous membrane of stomach and
intestines, with layers of white or whitish-yellow mucus, impregnated
with the salt of lead.

Treatment.--Sulphate of sodium or magnesium, or a mixture of dilute
sulphuric acid, spirits of chloroform, and peppermint-water. Milk, or
milk and eggs. As a prophylactic among workers in lead, a drink
containing sulphuric acid flavoured with treacle should be given.
Lavatory accommodation should be provided, and scrupulous cleanliness
should also be enjoined in the workshops. The dry grinding of lead salts
should be prohibited. The ionization method of Sir Thomas Oliver is
most useful both as regards cure and also prevention of chronic
poisoning by lead.

Fatal Dose and Fatal Period.--Uncertain.

Method of Extraction from the Stomach.--Dry the contents of the
stomach or portions of the liver, etc., and incinerate in a porcelain
crucible. Treat the ash with nitric acid, dry, and dissolve in water.
The solution of nitrate of lead may now have the proper tests applied.

Tests.--Sulphuretted hydrogen gives a black precipitate; liquor
potassæ, white precipitate; sulphuric acid, white precipitate, insoluble
in nitric acid; iodide of potassium, a bright yellow precipitate. A
delicate test for lead in water is to stir the water, concentrated or
not, with a glass rod dipped in ammonium sulphide: a brown coloration is
produced. One-tenth of a grain of lead in a gallon of water may be
detected.

Chronic lead-poisoning is an 'industrial disease,' and, being an
occupation risk, its victims are entitled to compensation at the hands
of their employers. In case of death, compensation has been awarded even
when at the autopsy the patient has been found to have suffered from
acute tuberculosis of the lungs. The responsibility of apportioning the
monetary value of disablement resulting from the action of the lead
rests with a judge or jury, who are guided by the expert medical
evidence available.

Diachylon, or lead-plaster, is largely used as an abortifacient.





Next: Copper And Its Preparations

Previous: Mercury And Its Preparations



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