Poison

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Related to poisons: ricin, arsenic, Poisonous Plants

Poison

Any substance dangerous to living organisms that if applied internally or externally, destroy the action of vital functions or prevent the Continuance of life.

Economic poisons are those substances that are used to control insects, weeds, fungi, bacteria, rodents, predatory animals, or other pests. Economic poisons are useful to society but are still dangerous.

The way a poison is controlled depends on its potential for harm, its usefulness, and the reasons for its use. The law has a right and a duty pursuant to the Police Power of a state to control substances that can do great harm.

In the past, an individual who was harmed by a poison that had been handled in a careless manner could institute a lawsuit for damages against the person who had mishandled the chemical. As time went on, state statutes prescribed the circumstances under which someone was legally liable for injuries caused by a poison. For example, a sale to anyone under sixteen years of age was unlawful, and a seller was required to ensure that the buyer understood that the chemical was poisonous. It was not unusual for all poisons, drugs, and narcotics to be covered by the same statutory scheme.

Specialized statutes currently regulate poisons. Pesticides must be registered with the federal government, and those denied registration cannot be used. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a number of regulations governing the use of approved pesticides. Federal law also prohibits unauthorized adulteration of any product with a poisonous substance and requires clear labeling for anything sold with a poisonous ingredient. It might not be sufficient to list all the chemicals in a container or even to put the word POISON on the label. The manufacturer should also warn of the injuries that are likely to occur and the conditions under which the poison will cause harm. Stricter standards are applied to household products than to poisonous products intended to be used in a factory, on a farm, or by a specially trained person. Poisonous food products are banned. Under other federal regulations, pesticide residues on foods are prohibited above certain low tolerance levels.

Certain provisions under federal law seek to protect children from poisoning. Special packaging is required for some household products so that a child will not mistake them for food or will not be able to open containers. Federal funds are available for local programs to reduce or eliminate the danger of poisoning from lead-based paint. Under the Hazardous Substances Act (15 U.S.C.A. § 1261 et seq.), toys containing poisonous substances can be banned or subjected to recall.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

POISON, crim. law. Those substances which, when applied to the organs of the body, are capable of altering or destroying, in a majority of cases, some or all of the functions necessary to life, are called poisons. 3 Fodere, Traite de Med. Leg. 449; Guy, Med. Jur. 520.
     2. When administered with a felonious intent of committing, murder, if. death ensues, it is murder the most detestable, because it can of all others, be least prevented by manhood or forethought. It is a deliberate act necessarily implying malice. 1 Russ. Cr. 429. For the signs which indicate poisoning, vide 2 Beck's Med. Jurisp. ch. 16, p. 236, et seq.; Cooper's Med. Jurisp. 47; Ryan's Med. Jurisp. ch. 15, p. 202, et seq.; Traill, Med. Jur. 109.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
However, as I cast my mind back over the events of the morning, and as I reconsider the fatuous conduct of my companions, I find it easy to believe that some poison of an exciting kind was responsible for their symptoms."
"As to the laughter," said Challenger, "you will bear in mind that, like yourselves, I have not been exempt from the stimulating cerebral effects of the etheric poison. But as to the horror with which universal death appears to inspire you, I would put it to you that it is somewhat exaggerated.
"My good Summerlee, this etheric poison is most certainly influenced by material agents.
In any case, he had had ample time to introduce the poison.
"Is it possible that she could have swallowed the poison by accident?" asked the Coroner.
"Does anything in your examination lead you to determine how the poison was administered?"
"This 25th day of April, 1498, be...ing invited to dine by his Holiness Alexander VI., and fearing that not...content with making me pay for my hat, he may desire to become my heir, and re...serves for me the fate of Cardinals Caprara and Bentivoglio, who were poisoned...I declare to my nephew, Guido Spada, my sole heir, that I have bu...ried in a place he knows and has visited with me, that is, in...the caves of the small Island of Monte Cristo all I poss...ssed of ingots, gold, money, jewels, diamonds, gems; that I alone...know of the existence of this treasure, which may amount to nearly two mil...lions of Roman crowns, and which he will find on raising the twentieth ro...ck from the small creek to the east in a right line.
Meantime the queen went home to her glass, and shook with rage when she read the very same answer as before; and she said, 'Snowdrop shall die, if it cost me my life.' So she went by herself into her chamber, and got ready a poisoned apple: the outside looked very rosy and tempting, but whoever tasted it was sure to die.
Factors such as age of child, size of the family, living conditions, environments and exposure to various poisons which may vary in rural and urban setting, also determine the magnitude of the problem.5 There are a number of hospital based epidemiological studies on childhood poisoning implicating different agents and all emphasize the implementation and improvement of prevention programs, which can be aided to a large extent by the identification of high risk circumstances, susceptible age groups, chemical substances and commercial products involved in pediatric poisoning cases.6,7, Most of these accidents usually occur due to negligence on the part of parents or guardian, to prevent the exposure of child from harmful substances.8
"What is considered as an amazing finding is that there are equal numbers of adults and children cases who were accidentally exposed to poisons," said Dr Mohammad Abu Al Khair, drug consultant with HA-AD.
"War is waged with weapons, not with poisons" is the saying the Roman army used in response to the Germanic practice of poisoning wells.
Until about 1950, the only rat poisons available were fast-acting and these were not very effective because, as described in my earlier article, rats eat only a tiny amount of new food and learn to avoid it if it makes them feel ill.