Symptoms of antimony poisoning, when exposed to small doses, include headache, nausea, and depression. However, even these doses can be fatal when chronically exposed.
Antimony is a metalloid with an atomic number of 51. Although nothing can be said conclusively about the origin of its name, it is believed that the name has been derived from Greek words anti and monos, which loosely mean ‘something that is opposed to solitude’ or ‘something that cannot occur unalloyed’. The Latin name for this element is Stibium, and it is denoted by the symbol Sb. It has been in use since ancient times. Antimony sulfide is known to have been used as early as 3000 B.C. Women of Middle East applied this compound as cosmetic to darken their eyebrows and eyelids. Even artifacts made out of this element dating back to 3000 B.C. have been found. Even today, it has great use. Despite its utility, a fact worth considering is that the element is toxic. Increased exposure to the element can lead to antimony poisoning.
- Symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of arsenic poisoning.
- Low doses cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and depression.
- Large doses cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and tingling of the extremities.
- Despite the fact that large doses work as an emetic, if left untreated, a person may die.
- Those who are exposed to low doses for over long periods of time, will also show the symptoms of poisoning as mentioned above. However, the effects will vary depending upon the amount and period of exposure.
- Additionally, such individuals also suffer from hair loss and develop a scaly skin rash that called lichen planus.
- The first action once you suspect that someone is suffering from the effects of this condition is, to remove him from the toxic environment.
- If the problem has been caused through the air route, then ensure that the poisoned person has fresh air to breathe.
- Remove clothes that have traces of the element and wash the skin with soap and water to remove any traces of the chemical element, if there has been contact with skin. All these measures would limit the exposure to the toxic element.
- Along with taking these steps for first aid, make sure that medical help is called for. Health care professionals provide intravenous fluids to hydrate the patient and prescribe appropriate medications.
- Gastric lavage, i.e., washing the stomach with sterile or saltwater to remove poison, may also be administered.
- Sometimes, chelating drugs are also given, that combine with any traces of poisonous elements that may still remain in the patients’ body.
Connection with Toys
This disorder assumed greater importance with the findings of a California-based corporation, GoodGuide, that found levels of this element in certain toys that exceeded the levels permitted by law. The Corporation investigated, and then disseminated information about the social, ethical, and environmental effects of products of common use. It tested four different Zhu Zhu hamsters and tested for amounts of toxins in them. Although bromine and tin were also found in the toys, what raised serious concern was the amount of element present in them, as they were way beyond the permissible limit.
The toy industry allows use of elements in toys in amounts, such that they are inhaled or ingested only in limited amounts. Findings of GoodGuide indicated that the amount of this metalloid in the toys that were tested was almost one and a half times more than that specified. This product is largely used in toys, textiles (including clothes for children), through the use of fire-retarding chemicals. Use of this element in amounts more than the permissible limits exposes us to poisoning through products of daily use.
There are other sources of this disorder also. However, presence of toxic compounds in toys, including ink and amalgam poisoning, etc., are of serious concern, as they leave our children vulnerable to this condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.