Barium is valuable in many industries that make use of heavy metal because it can remove traces of oxygen in some chemical compounds. It also increases the luster of glass. However, barium is explosive and can react violently when mixed with water. Also, it cannot be digested by the body; barium can be poisonous if the amount the body contains exceeds tolerable levels.
Common barium salt is barium chloride, barium carbonate, barium acetate, barium nitrate, barium sulfate, etc.. Food-borne poisoning is mainly barium chloride and barium carbonate. Barium salt of toxicity related to their solubility, the higher solubility, the stronger toxicity. Such as the solubility of barium chloride was significantly higher than the insoluble barium carbonate, its toxicity was also significantly greater than barium carbonate. Barium carbonate in under the action of acid into barium chloride and show its toxicity. The barium sulfate is not soluble in water, therefore nontoxic role.
At low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, whereas higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, dyspnea and paralysis. This may be due to the ability of Ba2+ to block potassium ion channels, which are critical to the proper function of the nervous system. Other target organs for water-soluble barium compounds (i.e., barium ions) are eyes, immune system, heart, respiratory system, and skin. They affect the body strongly, causing, for example, blindness and sensitization.
When barium accumulates in the body, it usually affects the functions of the nervous system. Barium poisoning displays symptoms that are similar to flu, which is why it is not strange to find the condition misdiagnosed as flu. Common symptoms of barium poisoning include:
1. Muscle weakness and tremors
2. Difficulty in breathing
3. Stomach irritations accompanied by diarrhea
5. Cardiac irregularities such as abnormally high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat
Barium may be inhaled as a gas, especially in an enclosed space where the levels may become toxic. Take the victim out into fresh air where there is plenty of oxygen to breathe. If the victim has stopped breathing, administer CPR and make sure that his mouth and nose are clear.
If the victim has swallowed barium, you can induce vomiting by sticking a finger down her throat. This will get any unabsorbed portions of barium out of the body and prevent the condition from getting worse. It’s usually most effective when performed within one hour of ingesting the barium. Contact a local poison center for further directions; they may have specific recommendations for your case.
Mix one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a glass of water and get the victim to drink it. The sulfates will bond with the barium in the victim’s system, rendering it less toxic and allowing the body to expel it with less damage. The victim should be conscious and able to take liquids if you choose to do this. Never try to force liquid down the throat of someone who has lost consciousness.