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First Aid 2023

Chumbinho: how the poison acts in the body (and what to do)

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Chumbinho: how the poison acts in the body (and what to do)
Chumbinho: how the poison acts in the body (and what to do)

Lead is a dark gray granulated substance that contains aldicarb and other insecticides. Chumbinho has no smell or taste and is therefore often used as a poison to kill rats. Although it can be purchased illegally, its use is prohibited in Brazil and other countries, because it is not safe as a rodenticide and has a high possibility of poisoning people.

When a person accidentally ingests pellets, the substance inhibits a very important enzyme in the nervous system that is essential for life and which is known as "acetylcholinesterase". For this reason, people with lead poisoning often experience symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, excessive sweating, tremors, and bleeding. If this happens, call the SAMU, through the number 192, explaining where you are and how the person who touched or ingested the substance is doing.

If the victim is not breathing or if his heart is not beating, cardiac massage should be performed to maintain blood and brain oxygenation in order to save his life. It is important to remember that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should not be performed, since, if the poisoning has taken place by ingestion, there is a risk that the person providing the assistance may also become intoxicated. Check out how to do cardiac massage correctly.


When you suspect poisoning

The signs and symptoms of pellet poisoning take about 1 hour to manifest, but it is possible to suspect the contact or ingestion of pellet when signs such as:

  • Existence of pellet residue in the person's hands or mouth;
  • Breath different from usual;
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, which may contain blood;
  • Pale or purplish lips;
  • Burning in mouth, throat or stomach;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Headache;
  • Disease;
  • Increased salivation and sweating;
  • Pupil dilation;
  • Cold, pale skin;
  • Confusion, which manifests itself for example when the person cannot say what they were doing;
  • Hallucinations and delusions, such as hearing voices or thinking you are talking to someone;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Increased urge to urinate or absent urination;
  • Seizures;
  • Blood in urine or stool;
  • Paralysis of part of the body or complete inability to move;
  • Eat.

In case of suspected poisoning, take the victim to the hospital as soon as possible and call the Poisoning Hotline: 0800-722-600.

What to do in case of lead poisoning

In case of suspicion or ingestion of pellets, it is advisable to call the SAMU immediately, dialing the number 192, to ask for help or take the victim immediately to the hospital.

If the person is not responding or breathing

When you notice that the person is not responding or breathing, it is a sign that they are going into cardiorespiratory arrest, which can lead to death in a few minutes.

In these situations, it is advisable to call for medical help and start cardiac massage, which should be done as follows:

  1. Lie the person on their back and on a hard surface, such as the floor or a table;
  2. Place your hands on the victim's chest, palms down and fingers interlaced, at the midpoint of the line between the nipples;
  3. Push your hands hard against your chest (compression), using your own body weight and keeping your arms straight, counting at least 2 pushes per second. The massage must be continued until the medical team arrives and it is important to let the chest return to its normal position between each compression.

The victim may not wake up even when receiving the cardiac massage correctly, however, one should not give up until the ambulance or fire department arrives to try to save the victim's life.

In the hospital, if lead poisoning is confirmed, the medical team can perform gastric lavage, use serum to eliminate the poison from the body faster, and medicines against hemorrhage, convulsions and activated charcoal to prevent absorption of toxic substances that are still in the stomach.

See in more detail how to perform cardiac massage correctly.

What not to do

In case of suspected lead poisoning, it is not advisable to offer water, juice or any liquid or food for the person to ingest. Also, do not try to induce vomiting by putting your finger down the victim's throat.

For your own protection, you should also avoid giving the victim mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, as this can cause intoxication in the rescuer.

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