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What is Hydrogen Cyanide Gas?

Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) is a chemical asphyxiant with a musky and almond-like smell that is slightly light blue in colour. However, some people often cannot smell it, making it even more dangerous as people can often not be aware of its presence, regardless of the concentration levels. Hydrogen Cyanide also mixes very well with air and can create a hazardous explosive mixture. HCN's boiling point is 26 celsius and its melting point is -13 Celcius. 

Hydrogen Cyanide is used heavily in manufacturing plastic, paints, and synthetic materials and can be used in pest control as a fumigant. Hydrogen cyanide can be released into the environment via industrial activities as it is a byproduct and is in the smoke and fumes that are produced. Hydrogen Cyanide affects humans by disrupting the body’s use of oxygen in every body organ and is exceptionally fatal. It can also harm the cardiovascular system, central nervous system and pulmonary system. However, cyanide exists naturally in foods such as cassava, lima beans, almonds and fruit seeds. It can also be used to manufacture paper, textiles and plastics.

Fun Fact – Cigarette smoke contains cyanide

Applications used in

  • Chemical processing
  • Pulp and paper manufacturing

Assessment of the Dangerous Toxic Load (DTL) for Specified Level of Toxicity (SLOT) and Significant Likelihood of Death (SLOD)

  • Common synonym – Hydrocyanic acid
  • CAS number - 74-90-8
  • 'n' value - 2
  • SLOT DTL (ppmn.min) – 1.92 x 10
  • SLOD DTL (ppmn.min) - 4.32 x 10