Toxicological Profiles are a unique compilation of toxicological information on a given hazardous
substance. Each profile reflects a comprehensive and extensive evaluation, summary, and interpretation
of available toxicologic and epidemiologic information on a substance. Health care providers treating
patients potentially exposed to hazardous substances will find the following information helpful for fast
answers to often-asked questions.
Cyanides are compounds (substances formed by the joining of two or more atoms) that can both occur naturally or be man-made. Many cyanides are powerful and rapid-acting poisons. Hydrogen cyanide, which is a gas, and the simple cyanide salts (sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide) are common examples of cyanide compounds. Certain bacteria, fungi, and algae can produce cyanide, and cyanide is found in a number of foods and plants. In certain plant foods, including almonds, millet sprouts, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other naturally-occurring compounds. However, the edible parts of plants that are eaten in the United States, including tapioca which is made from cassava roots, contain relatively low amounts of cyanide.
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