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TOXIC TRIVIA

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Instructions: Answer each multiple choice question or select various answers from the pulldown menus. Then hit the Submit button at the bottom of the page. You'll receive a score, ranking and feedback about your answers. You can change and resubmit your answers as many times as you wish. If you get a big kick out of the quiz, let us know via email.

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  1. Which one of the following should you take to relieve nasal and sinus congestion?

    atom codes
    1 of 3 choices 1 of 3 choices 1 of 3 choices
    A B C


  2. One of the deadliest radioactive isotopes is 210Po (Polonium-210). It is a strong alpha emitter with a half-life of 128 days. Polonium metal is also rather volatile, with a melting point of 255 degrees C, making it a particularly deadly component of tobacco smoke (inhaling alpha emitters is not a very good idea). Fortunately, polonium is found only in minute amounts in Nature.

    Polonium is so radioactive that a 0.50 gram sample will reach temperatures greater than 500 degrees all by itself. The radiation energy is so great that an amount too small to see would be a lethal dose!

    Let's compare polonium to hydrogen cyanide (which can kill you in a few minutes at 300 ppm in air). How many times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide is polonium?

      100
      56,000
      78,950,000
      1,000,000,000
      250,000,000,000
      radiation!


  3. Match these names to the molecules shown below:

    AZT
    Caffeine
    Cholesterol
    Cocaine
    DDT
    Estrogen
    Nitroglycerine
    Novocaine
    Penicillin
    Testosterone
    10 molecules


  4. For each item in the table, select the estimated number of Americans (apologies to our foreign visitors) that die each year from each of the following:

      Lightning Strikes
      Silicone Breast Implants
      Firearms
      Dioxin
      Smoking
      Allergic reactions
      AIDS
      Food poisoning


  5. Most people have heard that if a rat eats a substance that makes it sick, the rat will avoid that substance in the future (something many of us learn about with alcohol...). Therefore, one has to be clever in designing a rat poison.

    Warfarin is a particularly effective rat poison even though it is not what one normally considers highly toxic. It doesn't work like traditional poisons, so rats will eat a bait containing a sub-lethal dose and then come back for more.

    Curiously, warfarin is widely prescribed for medical use in humans ("the dose makes the poison")! Which one of these medical conditions can not be treated effectively with warfarin?

      Stroke
      Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
      Deep vein thrombosis
      Pulmonary embolism
      Breast cancer
      a molecule


  6. Rank these five items in order of lowest (1) to highest (6) toxicity:

      Tetrodotoxin (Fugu)
      Nicotine
      Strychnine
      Ibuprofen
      Sarin
      Ethyl alcohol


  7. The active ingredient in the popular over-the-counter antihistamine, Benadryl(tm), is diphenhydramine, shown here on the right. Diphenhydramine is also the active ingredient in what other popular medication?

      Nytol(tm), a sleeping pill
      Midol(tm), a PMS treatment
      Tylenol(tm), a headache remedy
      Ex-Lax(tm), a laxative
      Prozac(tm), an antidepressant
      a molecule


  8. Phenolphthalein is an acid-base indicator. It turns pink above pH 8.5 and is colorless below that (more on the pH scale here). Phenolphthalein had another use until recently, when it was discovered to cause cancer when used excessively over long periods of time. What was this use?

      Hair dye
      Food preservative
      Laxative
      Disinfectant
      Breath freshener
      a molecule


  9. Phenylalanine is an amino acid (see the color coding, below) that is used by the body as a precursor to other amino acids, neurotransmitters etc. Phenylalanine is not produced by the body, so we must obtain it from dietary sources such as eggs, milk and nuts. Unfortunately, 1 out 16,000 of us has a hereditary disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU), an inability to properly metabolize phenylalanine. This is particularly dangerous in children as the excess buildup of phenylalanine can interfere with brain development. For this reason, all children are tested for PKU shortly after birth. With proper dietary modifications, people with PKU can lead normal lives.

    Recently, a popular new consumer food ingredient was introduced. One of its main components is phenylalanine, posing a risk to people with PKU who might unwittingly consume it. For this reason, the FDA requires that any product containing this ingredient to include a PKU warning. For the rest of the population, this food ingredient appears to be perfectly safe.

    What is this ingredient?

      Olestra(tm), an artificial fat
      Ginkgo balboa, a "dietary supplement"
      St. John's Wort, an herbal remedy
      Aspartame, an artificial sweetener
      Bovine growth hormone
      a molecule


  10. In the early 1800's a wonderful green pigment called Paris Green was invented. It was used for all sorts of consumer products, including wallpaper. Unfortunately, Europe has a cool damp climate that is conducive to molds. Some of these molds could biomethylate (react with) Paris Green to produce a toxic gas called trimethylarsine. Extended exposure to this gas in a closed room caused illness or death. Many of the people sickened by their exposure to trimethylarsine stayed in their bedrooms with the windows shut to recover...yep, those bedrooms with the green wallpaper, alas. In this case, getting a little bed rest was a very bad idea!!

    Which of these is the chemical composition of Paris Green?

      CH3COOH
      CuCO3.Cu(OH)2
      [Co(NH3)5Cl]Cl2
      2Cu(O2CH3)2.3Cu(AsO2)2
      o-C6H4(COOH)(OOCH3)

   

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