A while back, mail containing ricin was sent to the president and to a congressman, so I went looking to find out about it. Ricin is a naturally occurring toxin in castor beans, which come from castor-oil plants. It can be extracted from the beans or the waste leftover after castor oil is made from them.
Castor beans can be crushed to extract oil, or processed to make
ricin. In its purest form, ricin is a white powder and dissolves in
Someone can be poisoned with ricin by inhaling the powder or a mist
of dissolved ricin, or by injection. The purified toxin from a
single castor bean is lethal enough to kill a thousand people.
Ricin blocks the ability of cells to make proteins and can kill in a
matter of days. There is currently no antidote for ricin poisoning.