Hydrogen cyanide is known to be produced upon the pyrolysis of the synthetic material polyacrylonitrile. Cyanide inhibits phosphorylation reactions, therefore, decreasing the amount of high energy bonds available for metabolic use. Since the energy requirements, as well as the respiratory minute volume, for an individual decrease with decreasing activity, it was of interest to investigate whether diminished physical activity would decrease the lethal potential of the pyrolysis products of polyacrylonitrile. In order to produce wide variations in physical activity, male ICR mice were pretreated with either 8.6 mg/kg dextroamphetamine sulfate ip 30 min prior to challenge, 75 mg/kg sodium pentobarbital ip 15 min prior to challenge, or 10 ml/kg of 70 proof ethyl alcohol ip 15 min prior to challenge. Control animals received injections of 10 ml/kg normal saline ip 15 min prior to challenge. Animals were subsequently challenged with the cooled/filtered smoke from the pyrolysis of polyacrylonitrile fibers at 660 C. Increased physical activity decreased the exposure time necessary to produce death. Animals pretreated with amphetamine appear to die more rapidly than control animals due to an increase in respiratory minute volume. Animals pretreated with sodium pentobarbital or ethanol appear to survive through long periods of exposure to the toxic gases due to both a decrease in minute volume and a decrease in energy utilization.
S. J. Moore, S. Whitney, C. Purser
Veterinary and human toxicology