Phosphorus – An Enlightened Poison

The name phosphorus comes from a Greek word meaning “bearer of light” and isLantern commercially produced in two predominant forms—white and red phosphorus. In its white phosphorus (WP) structure, WP is a waxy substance that gives off a slight glow in air. In the late 1880’s a Berlin woman laced her husband’s soup with the chemical to secure an insurance settlement, but the crime was foiled when the husband’s friends noticed that the soup glowed when he stirred it.

White phosphorus is capable of igniting in air once its temperature reaches about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and for that reason is used in Flarefireworks, flares and weaponry. Red phosphorus is far more stable at room temperature and that form is used on match tips and also in pesticide formulations, such as rat and roach pastes. Red phosphorus can also be volatile at higher temperatures and can become explosive when used as an ingredient in backroom methamphetamine labs.

Most phosphorus poisonings these days are suicide attempts, but the chemical might make for an interesting weapon of murder. A lethal dose is said to be in the 50-65mg range and the road to death is two-fold. Initially, a victim will experience mild gastric distress that includes abdominal pain and nausea—general symptoms not specifically linked to lethal consequences. There is no specific antidote to phosphorus poisoning.

Those initial symptoms progress in about two to approximately six hours after ingestion, and these symptoms include gastrointestinal burning, vomiting and diarrhea. One of the more interesting telltale signs of phosphorus Phosphoresencepoisoning is a characteristic garlic odor to the victim’s breath and vomitus. Another interesting piece of evidence is a slight glow (phosphorescence) to the victim’s vomitus and feces that is termed “the smoking stool syndrome”.

Phosphorus is an interesting mineral that’s essential to human bone structure and is necessary for the storage and release of energy in human cells. However, what little we absorb from food goes a long way to maintain human health. More than that and the potential for murder exists.

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



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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 Murder, All About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Chemicals Used For Murder, Choosing How a Character Should Die in a Story, Deadly Poisons Discussed, Death From Phosphorus, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Lethal Chemical Poisons, Methods of Murder, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, Murder With Drugs, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, Phosphorus and Murder, Phosphorus Poisoning, Plotting Murder Scenes, Poisons and Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, Red Phosphorus, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, White Phosphorus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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