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What is Ricin?

Today, it was confirmed that letters sent to President Obama and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi contained Ricin. So what is Ricin? We’ve got the answer.

Ricin is a highly toxic protein obtained from the pressed seeds of the castor oil plant. It can be safely made into castor oil, but the waste product left behind, called “mash” is highly toxic. It can be found in powder, pellet, or mist form. Accidental Ricin poisoning is highly unlikely, meaning the letters sent to President Obama and Senator Wicker was likely intentional.

How toxic is Ricin? In extreme cases, it can cause death. There is no antidote for Ricin poisoning, but medical treatment can lessen the effects of the poison.

What are the symptoms of Ricin poisoning? Depending on the type of exposure, whether it was inhaled, ingested, or touched, symptoms can include trouble breathing, vomiting, seizures, skin irritation, and kidney failure.

Is Ricin poisoning fatal? Depending on the level of exposure, Ricin poisoning can cause death in 36-72 hours.

It is uncertain who sent the contaminated letters to President Obama and Senator Wicker, but neither men were in contact with the letters.

The video below describes what witnesses saw when a man was shot with a Ricin pellet.

 

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