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Ricin: The Science Behind a Poison

The illegal substance is derived from the waste made during the processing of castor oil.
1:42 | 04/18/13

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Transcript for Ricin: The Science Behind a Poison
Reiss an originates from this shore up -- castor plant. The potentially lethal poison is derived from the waist made during the processing castor oil from the beans at the plant. It isn't even legal substance that cannot be purchased and if it's injected in your blood -- it could most certainly kill you. What can -- and does is it kills your body's ability to make protein. And the protein it's just think of like chemotherapy or radiation the first thing that people get -- -- -- a bombing in diary of. The symptoms and even death can occur within 36 to 72 hours of exposure depending on the manner in which it was administered. However doctor -- -- director of toxicology at USC's Department of Emergency Medicine. Says inhaling -- -- or having contact with rice in powder isn't necessarily fatal. While there is no antidote for poison mild cases of -- an exposure can be treated. And fortunately there's no treatment for it other than what we call supportive therapy but it would be very unlikely for somebody who opened up a letter and handled it. And hopefully not and help much even if they've held some -- probably get sick I wouldn't anticipate that that would cause much -- -- unless the victims have compromised immune systems such as the very young and the elderly. Doctor -- says amateur chemists can make rice and if they really wanted to but manufacturing it in liquid form to inject would be difficult. And detecting it in an emergency room setting would be challenging as well. It's -- a compound that we routinely. Check for so would be very difficult summer brought me a powder and say do I think its rights and I would have to call the FBI or local authorities handed over to them. And it could be a delay of days before we live now. Joseph -- -- ABC seven Eyewitness News.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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