Dr. Ian Dale - Forensic Medicine

Thu 14th September 2017 at 18.30 - 20.30

Dr. Dale will address the Club on "How to poison your spouse" H&R: Ronnie Moore & John O'Brien VoT: John Robson

The guest speaker at tonight’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Motherwell and Wishaw was Dr Ian Dale.

Ian, a Past President of the Rotary Club of Glasgow, gave his talk on "A short history of poisoning", or, "How to poison your wife".

Ian said that there were five main types of poison - Mineral, Plant, Animal, Micro Organisms and Synthetic. The deadliest poison is botulinus toxin which is the most acutely poisonous natural substance known to man. It can be injected, inhaled or ingested and quickly causes paralysis and consequential respiratory failure.

The toxicity of any substance can be measured using a scale known as the median lethal dose which measures the amount of that substance needed to kill half the people it was given to. This particular poison has a median lethal dose of 1.2-1.3 ng/kg when injected. To put that number into perspective, one gram of this substance, equivalent to the mass of one raison, would be enough to kill over 5.5million men. This can be compared with other well-known poisons for a measure of toxicity. For example, hydrogen cyanide is the deadly gas used to carry out mass murder during the WWII holocaust. Under the same conditions, cyanide has an estimated median lethal dose of 1.1 mg/kg, meaning that one gram could be used to kill around 6 men.

Since 2002, botulinus has been licensed for cosmetic applications, becoming a multimillion pound industry, with people paying vast amounts for the privilege of having the Botox toxin injected, paralysing facial muscles on a temporary basis, generally lasting between three and four months. Such a small amount of Botox is used for these procedures so that the risks are low when administered by a trained medical professional. However, Botox has been known to sometimes spread from the site of injection, causing the FDA to release an official warning in 2009. In extreme cases, this spreading of the neurotoxin can cause speech problems and breathing difficulties. Less severe side effects include muscle weak-ness, blurred vision, drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing.

However, Botox, in addition to cosmetic fields, is, used to treat a variety of debilitating medical conditions. It has proved itself to be an extremely effective drug which can provide temporary relief from ailments such as excessive sweating, migraines, uncontrollable blinking, an overactive bladder and being crossed-eyed.

Ian went on to mention some famous cases involving well known poisoners such as Madelaine Smith, Dr. William Pritchard and Graham Young. He wound up by informing the members of a case where the deceased had died of zinc toxicity as a result of 373 coins, with a value of £182.86, being found in their body.

After a number of questions, John Robson proposed the vote of thanks.

The winner of the weekly bonus ball was Past President Tom Sleith.

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