ANTIMONY – A Shimmery Toxic Metal

antimonyAntimony is a naturally-occurring metal usually found in ore deposits. Although it is a rare element, it’s extensively used in the manufacturing industry and is present in many household items. Its appearance is described as “a silvery, luscious gray metal” but consumers often don’t see it in its natural state.

Typically, antimony is used in the manufacture of flame-retardant products, toys, car seat covers, clothing (even for children), semi-conductors and infrared detectors. It istracer-bullets also a key component as an alloy with lead in the manufacture of tracer bullets and batteries, and it’s even used in therapies to treat schistosomiasis (a flatworm parasite) and leichmaniasis (a parasite from sandflies).

Although antimony is considered a rare metal, it’s widely available and is present in many of the items we use every day. The incongruity I see here is that antimony is an extremely toxic substance and can be lethal if inhaled or ingested in sufficient quantities.

In fact, antimony has been described as “the perfect poison” since it has many advantageous attributes. It’s odorless, colorless and nearly tasteless when dissolved. Because it is virtually undetectable, accidental exposure to lethal doses is a real threat.

Factory workers have the greatest potential for antimony exposure as an occupational antimony-skin-spotshazard. The symptoms for inhaled exposure include dizziness, headaches, pneumonia-like symptoms and “antimony spots” appearing on the skin. Ingested exposure might exhibit as depression, nausea and vomiting, kidney damage, and may even cause certain types of cancer.

Therapeutic exposure while treating schistosomiasis and leichmaniasis might exhibit as an inflamed pancreas and heart ailments.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that of the European Union (EU) maintain standards for reduced exposure to antimony, those of the EU may fall short for fruit juice concentrate products. Both agencies monitor bottled drinking water levels and maintain standards for such products since antimony can leak from the plastic in bottles into the water.

So, antimony actually does make “a perfect poison”—not only because of itsdanger_poison_dx83_osha odorless, colorless, tasteless qualities—but because of its ready availability in so many manufacturing processes.

As a writer of murder mysteries, I did find an interesting downside to deliberate antimony poisoning. This substance acts as a natural preservative. Therefore, the bodies of antimony-poisoned victims tend to be well-preserved, even appearing “fresh” after several years of burial.

Therefore, if you intend to use antimony as the lethal weapon in your next mystery, be sure to not only get rid of the evidence but also get rid of the body!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, All About Murder, Antimony and Murder Mysteries, Antimony Poisoning, Antimony Uses and Misuses, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Bloodless Death Scenes, Chemicals Used For Murder, Creating Emotional Drama in a Murder Scene, Deadly Poisons Discussed, Deciding How to Kill Off a Character in a Novel, Designing Murder Plots, Dramatic Murder Weapons, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Chemical Poisons, Lethal Poisons, Methods of Murder, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Poisons Used For Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Perfect Poison, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways to Murder, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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