CASTOR BEAN TOXICITY AND ALLERGY

Castor bean is toxic due to ricin. Guinness Book of World Records identifies castor plant as most poisonous plant in the world. Various animals have different toxicity dosage. Rabbits = 4 seeds, Sheep = 5 seeds, dogs =11 seeds.

Carunculate seed of Ricinus communis (Castor b...
Carunculate seed of Ricinus communis (Castor beans) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to information available from Institute of tropical medicine Sao Paulo in 1964 in city of Ourinhous located in Estado de Sao Paulo there was an epidemic of asthma due to castor bean dust. Allergy was due to castor bean dust from the nearby castor oil extracting industry.

Ricinus communis English: Photographed and upl...
Ricinus communis English: Photographed and uploaded by user:Geographer. Castor Bean in disturbed area in Powder Canyon, Puente Hills, California, July 14, 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is the symptoms and history of allergy observed in 65 individuals at Ourinhous located in Estado de Sao Paulo (33 male, 32 female age from 8 months to 77 years) interviewed at the health post, city of Ourinhos

Symptoms No. of Cases %
RespiratoryAsthma

Rhinitis

Bronchitis

Coug

hMucold Sputum

Ashyxiation

 53

30

7

7

11

2

 81.5

46.1

10.7

10.7

16.9

3

 

OphthalmicConjunctivitis  5  7.6
CutaneousUrticariaItchingErythema

Prurigo

Angioneurotic Edema

 65

1

1

2

 9.17.6

1.5

1.5

3.0

GastrointestinalVomitingFeverProfuse sweating

Headache

 1153.01  1.523.03.01.5
History of allergyPersonalFamily  1732  23.149.2

Castor Bean is listed in IMDG Code under UN 2969 Class 9 PG II (CASTOR BEANS or CASTOR MEAL or CASTOR POMACE or CASTOR FLAKE)

Observation in the Code states “Whole beans or meal. The latter is the residue remaining after the oil has been extracted from the seeds. Castor beans contain a powerful allergen which, by inhalation of dust or by skin contact with crushed bean products, can give rise to severe irritation of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes in some persons. They are also toxic by ingestion. When handling these products, wear at least a dust mask and goggles. Avoid unnecessary skin contact.”

 When loading Castor beans it must be kept “Away from” foodstuffs. “Away from” class 5.1. “Separated from” class 6.2.