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What happens when a Poison expires…

As known by all pharmacists, the real difference between medicines and poisons is the intent to which it was given.


A Poison is a substance which when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin is capable of acting deleteriously on the human body.

Poisoning occurs when any substance interferes with normal body functions after it’s been swallowed, inhaled, injected, or absorbed.

Poisons are of two types.

  1. Naturally occurring
  2. Synthetic poisons.

The type concerned with ‘after expiration’ is the synthesized poisons because they are man made and have an expiration date .

The answer to the question above is given as follows:

  1. Purpose – If it was designed to cause paralysis for example, it may, as a result of expiration, break down to form a new compound that can be more detrimental such as causing death.
  2. A breakdown of the chemical structure of the poison in question can render it useless and not harmful if the new chemical structure formed does not have any effect anymore on the body.
  3. A breakdown of the chemical structure, regardless of if it being more poisonous or not, can still be harmful in a different way. For example, the newly formed compound can permit growth of microbes which can still lead to infection.
  4. Finally, the expiration date of poisons is not the date when the poison actually expires. It is just the date at which the company or industry that made it can no longer vouch for its effectiveness. So its efficacy becomes a matter of probability. 

Therefore caution especially with poisons must be taken as follows:

  • Avoid close contact which could occur by ingesting, skin contact, or inhalation of any form of poison.
  • All poisons should be disposed of using the manufacturers instructions.
  • Do not dispose of poisons in the same bin as with other waste products.
  • Do not ignite. Some are highly inflammable and some can be inhaled, thereby causing more detriment to health which could even lead to disability. 
  • Keep out of reach of children and use with caution.
  • Written by ALIFIA VICTOR OJOCHEGBE for PharmahubNG


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