Journal Article

Fatal Aluminum Phosphide Poisoning

Françoise Anger, François Paysant, Florent Brousse, Isabelle Le Normand, Patrick Develay, Yvan Galliard, Alain Baert, Marie Annick Le Gueut, Gilbert Pepin and Jean-Pierre Anger

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 24, issue 2, pages 90-92
Published in print March 2000 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online March 2000 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Fatal Aluminum Phosphide Poisoning

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A 39-year-old man committed suicide by ingestion of aluminum phosphide, a potent mole pesticide, which was available at the victim's workplace. The judicial authority ordered an autopsy, which ruled out any other cause of death. The victim was discovered 10 days after the ingestion of the pesticide. When aluminum phosphide comes into contact with humidity, it releases large quantities of hydrogen phosphine (PH3), a very toxic gas. Macroscopic examination during the autopsy revealed a very important asphyxia syndrome with major visceral congestion. Blood, urine, liver, kidney, adrenal, and heart samples were analyzed. Phosphine gas was absent in the blood and urine but present in the brain (94 mL/g), the liver (24 mL/g), and the kidneys (41 mL/g). High levels of phosphorus were found in the blood (76.3 mg/L) and liver (8.22 mg/g). Aluminum concentrations were very high in the blood (1.54 mg/L), brain (36 µg/g), and liver (75 µg/g) compared to the usual published values. Microscopic examination revealed congestion of all the organs studied and obvious asphyxia lesions in the pulmonary parenchyma. All these results confirmed a diagnosis of poisoning by aluminum phosphide. This report points out that this type of poisoning is rare and that hydrogen phosphine is very toxic. The phosphorus and aluminum concentrations observed and their distribution in the different viscera are discussed in relation to data in the literature.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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