Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Dioxin becomes most dangerous man-made poison

Dioxin is 60 thousand times more toxic than cyanide: a dose of only 50 micrograms of dioxin is lethal for a human being

Human beings have had an immense interest in poisons since most ancient times. People have been using poisons for centuries already, while methods of poisoning have become rather diverse as a result of such an extensive experience. In addition to a traditional method of injecting a portion of poison in blood, poisons were used in candles, for instance – the smoke of such candles was lethal. Poisonous evaporation rose up from bed sheets, as the victim was warming the bed up while sleeping. There were quite exotic methods of poisoning concocted as well: a person could die from a kiss of a concubine. Female sex slaves were adapted to poison since early childhood. When they were growing up, the poison concentration in their saliva was extremely dangerous to their clients. Poisonous substances were used in skincare creams, shampoos, lipsticks, etc. Adding poison to food is still reputed to be the most traditional way of poisoning.

Scientists have always been looking for the strongest poison. Dioxin has become one of such achievements: this substance ranks third on the list of most toxic poisons known to modern science. Dioxin made front pages of world's leading newspapers and magazines last year, after the so-called orange revolution in Ukraine.

Scientists discovered dioxins a short time ago. Specialists cannot boast of having a lot of information about the poison: the substance is quite complicated. There are quite contradictory opinions about dioxins too: scientists say that they can be found in fossilized relics as a product of burning, volcanic and even bacterial activities. The majority of dioxins appear in environment as a result of human life. Burning trash, smelting steel, making paper, chemicals and a variety of other products that human beings use in their every day live produces small, albeit dangerous, amounts of dioxins.

Dioxins are formed as a result of incomplete combustion of organic materials in the presence of chlorine. The burning of fuel in a car engine produces dioxins as well. Our civilization produces only several kilograms of dioxins a year in the whole world. However, even such a small amount of the highly dangerous poison is enough to exert considerable negative influence on mankind.

Dioxin is currently reputed to be the most dangerous toxic poison that has ever been made by the hands of man. It follows two poisons of natural origin: the botulism toxin and the diphtheria toxin. Dioxin is 60 thousand times more toxic than cyanide. A dose of only 50 micrograms of dioxin is lethal for a human being: the volume of the dose can be compared to a tiny microscopic piece of a 50-gram pill, cut into 1000 particles. 

Modern science does not have enough knowledge of dioxin's toxic properties. There can be only several laboratories found on the territory of the former USSR, which can analyze dioxins. The poison affects human skin, deteriorates liver, stomach and ruins the nerve system. Dioxins are said to be strong carcinogens:  scientists believe that the poison acts as an accelerating agent of cancer, the substance, which suppresses the human immune system, similar to AIDS virus. It is extremely difficult to remove dioxins from a living organism. Being lipophilic compounds, the poison accumulates in the adipose tissue and liver and may manifest its harmful effect in 15 or even 25 years.

Furthermore, dioxins possess a horrible ability to alter the genetic structure of a living cell, which may lead to congenital disorders and defects. There were several occurrences in the Soviet Union and other countries of the world, when dioxins polluted the environment as a result of industrial breakdowns. The most recent criminal story with dioxins occurred during the presidential election in Ukraine, when Viktor Yushchenko, the incumbent Ukrainian president, suffered from the dioxin poisoning.

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