ToxinA toxin is a substance that causes damage to biological systems by chemical means. The term is usually reserved for substances that are life-threatening in small quantities. (Other substances can be lethal in large quantities, but are not usually called poisons. Even water is lethal if a few teaspoons are inhaled all at once.) The study of toxins and their adverse effects is known as toxicology. Orally administered toxins are also called poisons, especially if intentionally administered by a human. Animal toxins that are delivered subcutaneously (e.g. by sting or bite) are also called venom. (In normal usage, a poisonous organism is one that is harmful to consume, but a venomous organism uses poison to defend itself while still alive. A single organism can be both.) Toxins may be gases, liquids or solids. Many plants, animals and microorganisms generate toxins to discourage or kill predators. Food poisoning is a term for a broad range of illnesses that can result from eating food that is spoiled or tainted by bacterium, such as E. coli or botulin toxin. Naturally occurring or human-modified toxins may be intentionally released by humans in chemical warfare. Molecular engineering and biomimicry are believed to have potential to displace toxins in industry. However, a molecular assembler or other new molecule may itself be a toxin, or reasonably defined as one by default under Precautionary Principle. Ranges of poisoning The onset of symptoms of poisoning may be rapid and swiftly lead to illness or death. Examples are poisoning due to inhalation of hydrogen cyanide or injection of potassium chloride. This is called acute poisoning. A poison may also take effect slowly. This is known as chronic poisoning and is most common for poisons that bioaccumulate. Examples of these types of poisons are mercury, lead, and asbestos. Examples of toxins Non-radioactive inorganic toxins * Elemental metals o beryllium o cadmium o lead o thallium o mercury * Elemental metalloids o arsenic * Elemental nonmetals o fluorine o chlorine o bromine * Carbon compounds o cyanides + potassium cyanide + hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid) o carbon monoxide o ethanol o methanol o formaldehyde o alkaloids + solanine + atropine + hyoscyamine + aconite + strychnine * Arsenic compounds o arsenic trioxide o Fowler's solution * ammonia Radioactive inorganic poisons * Elemental metals o Plutonium o Polonium o Radium o Strontium 90 - See Nuclear fallout o Uranium o Americium Toxins produced by living things: * Microorganisms o botulin toxin o Tetrodotoxin * snake and spider venoms * curare * digitoxin * digoxin * domoic acid (or Amnesic Shellfish Poison, ASP) * Mushroom toxins o amanita toxin, see Amanita phalloides * muscarine * ricin * Ciguatera poisoning * Shellfish toxins (PSP, DSP, NSP, ASP ) * Scombroid poisoning * Aflatoxins * oubain * Pyrrolizidine alkaloids * Phytohaemagglutinin (Red kidney bean poisoning) * Grayanotoxin (Honey intoxication) Famous Cases Of Poisoning * Charles Darwin (Claimed only by rumor: self-medication with Fowler's solution, one percent potassium arsenite) * Jamestown colonists Standard historical accounts claim deaths by starvation, but the possibility of arsenic poisoning by rat poison (or of death by Bubonic plague) has also been reported (see http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets2/case3_clues.html). * Jonestown inhabitants died from a poisoned drink in a mass sucide/murder: see Jonestown mass suicide * Clare Boothe Luce (Did not die of her poisoning) See Arsenic * Georgi Markov (Assassinated in London by KGB agents with ricin) * Napoleon Bonaparte (Claimed only by rumor: killed by someone on his staff; however, arsenic was measured but not found in his hair after his death) * Socrates According to Plato, killed by drinking Hemlock (water hemlock, not hemlock the evergreen tree) Poisons in crime fiction This is of course an inexhaustive list. You may wish to add other novels and/or specify the poisons used. Novels: * Anthony Berkeley: The Poisoned Chocolates Case * Francis Iles: Before the Fact (filmed as Suspicion) * Francis Iles: Malice Aforethought * Agatha Christie: Three Act Tragedy * Agatha Christie: A Pocket Full of Rye * Agatha Christie: Crooked House * Cornell Woolrich: Waltz into Darkness (filmed as Mississippi Mermaid and Original Sin) * Joseph Kesselring: Arsenic and Old Lace (play) Films: * D.O.A. (1950 movie) Poison is also the name of a US rock band active in the 1980s and 1990s.