How much do you know about ricin?

How much do you know about ricin?

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Cobb County firefighters agreed to show FOX 5 what they do to respond to the threat of a ricin attack. Cobb County firefighters agreed to show FOX 5 what they do to respond to the threat of a ricin attack.
COBB COUNTY, Ga. -

You might not be familiar with ricin, but first responders in metro Atlanta have spent lots of time studying the biological toxin.  One unit in Cobb County agreed to explain the harm ricin can cause, and show us how they try to respond.  

A number of local fire departments have the equipment and the capability to respond to hazardous materials calls.  In the case of ricin, it's one of the most dangerous toxins they face.  Cobb Fire hazmat officers agreed to show FOX 5 what it would take to respond.

What is ricin?  Cobb County Fire Department spokesperson Alan Land says it's a naturally derivative plant protein from the castor bean.  Once the castor oil is made, the byproduct is left over.  

In the wrong hands, the seed of that plant can be turned into a meal-type powder, and then weaponized as ricin.  Land said a terrorist could try to contaminate water or food with it.  

But what about powder in an envelope?  Land says it's not really a danger unless there's already an open cut or sore on your skin.   He says one of the major symptoms of ricin is nausea.

There is no antidote for ricin exposure, and ricin can kill you.  Land told FOX 5 that an amount of ricin about the size of a pin head could kill a grown man, and it could take anywhere from one to a couple of days for that to happen.

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