The possibility of barium poisoning is a reality among people working in and living near heavy industrial sites such as chemical plants, factories that produce rubber products and other such places. That is because barium is one of the components used in manufacturing the products created in these plants.
However, because many of these products end up in ordinary households, it is also possible for a person who does not work in or live near an industrial plant to experience barium poisoning. Rat poison, for instance, contains barium compounds. Some fluorescent bulbs have coatings made from barium oxide. Fish caught in waters near industrial sites may have absorbed barium from the water.
Given the considerable probability of a person becoming afflicted with barium poisoning, how would you know for sure if you or someone living with you ingested barium at toxic levels? If you find yourself or someone living in your household with symptoms of barium poisoning, then you should act immediately.
What Is Barium?
In order to understand how serious barium poisoning is, we need first to understand what barium is in the first place. Barium is a heavy metal that naturally occurs in the environment. It is silvery white in appearance.
Barium is valuable in many industries that make use of heavy metal because it can remove traces of oxygen in some chemical compounds. It also increases the luster of glass. However, barium is explosive and can react violently when mixed with water. Also, it cannot be digested by the body; barium can be poisonous if the amount the body contains exceeds tolerable levels.
Symptoms of Barium Poisoning to Look For
When barium accumulates in the body, it usually affects the functions of the nervous system. Barium poisoning displays symptoms that are similar to flu, which is why it is not strange to find the condition misdiagnosed as flu. Common symptoms of barium poisoning include:
1. Muscle weakness and tremors
2. Difficulty in breathing
3. Stomach irritations accompanied by diarrhea
5. Cardiac irregularities such as abnormally high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat
What to Do in Case of Barium Poisoning
In case someone in your household has just ingested something that contains barium, the first thing you need to do is to induce him or her to vomit. This will get some of the barium out of the victim’s system. You can also mix a tablespoon of Epsom salts (sodium sulfate or magnesium sulfate) with a glass of water and get the victim to drink it. Afterwards, you should bring the victim to the emergency room of the nearest hospital to make sure that he or she does not succumb to barium poisoning.
You can also prevent barium poisoning from happening in your home. For one, you should keep your rat poison or any other chemical substances in your house that contains barium out of reach of children. Make sure that you have labeled their containers properly.
You should also avoid eating fish that was caught near industrial sites and ascertain that the fish and seafood you eat does not contain barium or any other heavy metal. This will prevent you from accumulating barium in your system and suffer from barium poisoning later on.