This is our deadly chemical all-star list! While many of them are useful in their domains, but they still have tremendous potential to wreck havoc and destruction if not dealt with proper care. Worst of all, some of them may also found in your home, so it’s worth reading the list to be aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions.
We'll explore some of the most dangerous chemicals you'll, hopefully, never cross paths with during your life.
What's the most deadly substance?
There a quite a few candidates for the most deadly substance. But one of the most potent poisons on the planet is the Botulinum toxin.
Naturally produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, it is also used for cosmetic surgery in very small doses. But more on this later.
There are some other seriously dangerous chemicals out there.
These include things like:
- Substance N - Developed by the National Socialists during WW2.
- Chlorine trifluoride - Another nasty Nazi development. It can actually make asbestos burn apparently - more on this later.
- Azidoazide Azide - This is the most explosive compound ever created by man. It also has a pretty cool name.
- Dimethyl Cadmium - This could be considered the most toxic chemical in the world. It's pretty nasty all in all.
- Fluoroantimonic Acid - This is the most powerful acid every devised by mankind, apparently. Not something to be messed with!
What is the most dangerous gas in the world?
Much like the previous question, there are a lot of very dangerous gases in the world. Some of the most hazardous include the following:
- Hydrogen sulfide - In high enough concentrations, inhaling this gas results in a coma and death.
- Arsine - This gas attacks the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. At concentrations of 250 ppm, Arsine is fatal.
- Chlorine - Inhalation of chlorine at concentrations in excess of 1000 ppm is usually fatal.
There are, of course, many more nasty gases out there.
What are ten of the most dangerous chemicals?
There are many chemicals out there that can potentially cause serious harm or even death. Here are but 10 of them.
1. Batrachotoxin isn't very good for you
Batrachotoxin is the most potent non-peptide based poison known to man. It is commonly used in poison darts from, funnily enough, poison-dart frogs.
It is a highly potent cardiotoxic and neurotoxic steroidal alkaloid. To date, no antidote has been developed.
Interestingly, the frogs are unable to synthesize the chemical themselves, but rather acquire and secrete it from the Melyrid beetles they consume.
2. Chlorine Trifluoride is highly corrosive
Chlorine Trifluoride is famous for its ability to actually corrode glass. It is a so-called interhalogen compound that is colorless, highly-corrosive and an extremely reactive chemical.
It is mainly used as a component of rocket fuel and can only really be stored in fluorine-treated metal containers. When this nasty chemical meets water, it results in a highly explosive reaction.
3. Potassium Cyanide has killed some notable people in the past
Potassium Cyanide is a highly poisonous chemical that kills in minutes. For this reason, it has historically been used as a suicide pill by many prominent people in history.
Victims include the likes of Eva Braun (Hitler's longtime partner), Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Alan Turing and many more. It is also used by professional entomologists as a killing agent in collecting jars for, particularly fragile insect specimens.
4. VX is used in chemical weapons
VX, or Venomous Agent X, is a nasty nerve agent specifically designed for use in war. It was created by British military researchers and is deadly in doses as low as 10 mg.
VX can enter the body through the skin and doesn't easily break down in the environment. Exposure to VX kills by constantly activating glands and muscles. Death comes when the respiratory system fails.
5. Botulinum toxin A is also called Botox
Botox, or Botulinum Toxin A, is a very common cosmetic chemical that also happens to be one of the most toxic things in nature. This neurotoxic protein is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and other related species.
It is so toxic that just 1.3-2.1 ng/kg of it would be enough to kill someone if injected. So you might well ask, why is it used in cosmetic surgery?
Because of its ability to paralyze muscles, it is ideally suited for treating things like wrinkles, and muscle spasms in extremely small doses.
6. Ricin is pretty nasty
Ricin is widely known as a highly dangerous chemical. Yet it can be readily found in the seeds of castor oil plants.
It is a highly potent toxin and a dose the size of just a few grains of table salt will kill a human outright. Ricin was investigated for a time for its potential applications in war, but interest was ultimately turned to the weaponization of sarin.
7. Sarin will kill you in minutes
Sarin is a highly potent nerve agent that will kill exposed victims in less than ten minutes. It kills you through suffocation as your lung muscles become paralyzed as a result of inhaling it.
According to Wikipedia, "Sarin is generally considered a weapon of mass destruction. Production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed as of April 1997 by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance."
8. Strychnine has been rumored to have killed Alexander the Great
Strychnine is an old favorite for assassins and murderers throughout history. While it is usually employed to dispatch unwanted pests it can be used on humans too.
It has been rumored in the past that it might have been used to kill historical figures like Alexander the Great and Robert Johnson the famous Blues musician.
9. Nicotine is actually pretty potent
Nicotine was developed by plants as a defense mechanism against pests. For this reason, it happens to be one of the most potent toxins in the world.
For humans, apart from being highly addictive in low doses, if you exposed yourself to enough of it - it would actually be fatal. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), exposure to 5 mg/m3 of nicotine is "immediately dangerous to life and health".
10. Sodium Cyanide will kill you in seconds
Sodium Cyanide is routinely used as an industrial reactant. But exposure to it will result in the smell of almonds followed by death within seconds.
Cyanide binds to cytochrome c oxidase, a protein in the mitochondria, and stops the cells from using oxygen.