Fatal Dose of Nicotine?
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Thread: Fatal Dose of Nicotine?

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    Default Fatal Dose of Nicotine?

    The oft quoted number for a fatal dose of nicotine is 30 to 60 mg for an adult. That sounds way too low for a fatal dose in consideration of the following:
    • I have seen reports of clinical trials involving a 42 mg. nicotine patch. Nobody died.
    • I have known people who, when under stress, were smoking as much as 5 packs a day. They did not die, despite the fact that theoretically this would have exposed them to about 100 mg. of nicotine.
    The origin of the 30 to 60 is an "estimate" taken from a book published in the 1980s. I don't have access to the book itself to determine how they went about making this estimate.

    This estimate is being used as the basis for statements that liquid containing nicotine should be banned.

    The average content of nicotine per bottle, 360 mg. (20 ml x 18 mg/ml), is of concern because the fatal dose of nicotine is estimated to be 30-60 mg for adults ad 10 mg for children. Thus these
    these refill bottles are extremely dangerous and should be replaced by sealed, tamper-proof, leak resistant cartridges.
    This information is from Inchem.org

    7.2.1 Human data
    7.2.1.1 Adults
    The mean lethal dose has been estimated to be 30
    to 60 mg (0.5-1.0 mg/kg) (Gosselin, 1988).
    7.2.1.2 Children
    The lethal dose is considered to be about 10 mg
    of nicotine (Arena, 1974).
    7.2.2 Relevant animal data
    Dog: oral LD50: 9.2 mg/kg
    mouse: oral LD50: 3.3 mg/kg (RTECS, 1985-86)
    rat: oral LD50: 50 mg/kg
    Nicotine (PIM) Main risks and target organs

    So any chemists out there that can give comparative toxicity info? How does an LD50 for a rat usually compare to the LD50 for an adult human?


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    You cannot compare LD50 across different species. They are too many metabolic variables.

    The reason the 42mg patch and the 5PAD smoker did not die is because nicotine has a serum half life of around 2 hours. The toxic dose would have to be given in under an hour to be fatal. If given over 2 hours, the LD50 would be doubled.

    The patch is 42mg/24 hours=<2mg/hour. The 5PAD smoker was getting somewhere around 5-10mg/hour depending on how they smoked (constant chain smoking vs binge), so they were unlikely to have more than 20mg circulating at any given time.
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    OK, that helps! Thanks. So the thing we need to keep in mind is: Don't drink the liquid!

    Is there any other household substance we might have sitting around that a mouthful of which would likely be fatal, or is our e-cigarette liquid the most toxic substance allowed to be sold to consumers?

    I was thinking that products such as drain cleaner (and even some houshold plants) are pretty toxic, but we don't require them to be sold in 1-use sealed packages. Instead we require them to carry warning labels: Keep out of reach of children and pets.
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    Vehicle Ethyl Glycol based antifreeze. Sold in gallon jugs with a semi child reistant cap .

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    Isn’t Nicotine poisoning similar to Alcohol poisoning?

    By that I mean, I may be able to drink 750ml of 80 Proof Rum, given enough RC Cola, in the course of a day and be in no shape to drive but alive.

    But if I Turned the bottle skyward and drank the entire bottle I might be at Serious risk of doing bodily harm.

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    The same is true of most poisonings, but certainly not all. Your body can metabolize many substances given enough time.
    Ethylene glycol, for example, has a cumulative effect. The more you ingest over any time period, the more damage it does.
    Tylenol overdoses are like alcohol and nicotine. If the dose is given enough time to be metabolized, it is no longer deadly. But too much over too short of a time and it's bye bye liver.

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    Time is a Big Factor in certain times of poisonings. Also Body Mass plays a large role.

    A 100kg Adult may be able to stomach, pun intended, a 40mg Nicotine one time dose with no longer term effects. Whereas the same dose may lethal to a 18kg child.

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    The origin of the 30 to 60 is an "estimate" taken from a book published in the 1980s. I don't have access to the book itself to determine how they went about making this estimate.

    This estimate is being used as the basis for statements that liquid containing nicotine should be banned.
    While they are there, why not to ban some fertilizers, disinfestant, pesticides? (if I do not recall wrong, tobacco produces nicotine to protect itself from bugs...)
    Arent they as dangerous as a bottle of e-liquid?

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    The average content of nicotine per bottle, 360 mg. (20 ml x 18 mg/ml), is of concern because the fatal dose of nicotine is estimated to be 30-60 mg for adults ad 10 mg for children. Thus these
    these refill bottles are extremely dangerous and should be replaced by sealed, tamper-proof, leak resistant cartridges.
    Where was this statement published?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Randyrtx View Post
    Where was this statement published?
    Etter JF, Bullen C. Electronic cigarette : users profile, utilization, satisfaction and perceived efficacy. Addiction 2011

    Electronic cigarette: users profile, utilization, satisfaction and perceived efficacy - ETTER - Addiction - Wiley Online Library

    The sad thing is that Etter and Bullen are publishing information that is very positive for e-cigarettes. I happen to disagree with their conclusion.

    Did you know that a 2-year old could die if s/he eats about 42% of a tube of Colgate for Kids toothpaste? (Comes in kid-friendly flavors). Yet we don't call for toothpaste to come in sealed one-serving sizes.

    Yes, a bottle of liquid containing nicotine could poison someone.

    So can drain cleaner and many other household products. The answer is to put warning labels on and provide child-proof packaging for households that need it.
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