is there any substance that kills on contact with the body?

i was just watching The Jackal and there was a scene where a guy paints a substance on a car and when someone touches it he dies. i know this isnt true but is there any substance that would do this? no ingesting or anything…

I would think pretty much any substance could, provided there was enough of it and it was moving fast enough…

Nerve gas (VX or Sarin, for instance) can be absorbed through the skin. (Nerve gases are not really gases - think thin oil instead.) LD50 (a lethal dose for 50% of those exposed to it) on dry, unprotected skin for VX is as little as 10 mg.

Guide to nerve agents.

Diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP) is a liquid cholinesterase inhibitor that is readily absorbed through skin. It’ll kill you dead. Other organophosphorous based cholinesterase inhibitors include Sarin and VX.

Just a WAG that a DMSO/cyanide mix would be pretty quick to kill. I used to work with DMSO, and it is absorbed nearly instantaneously. In our work, it would transport the aniline we also worked with into the blooodstream. Aniline interfered with hemoglobin picking up oxygen in the lungs.

What I don’t know is if DMSO would similarly transport cyanide. If it will, you’ve got some nasty paint there.

I seem to remember that highly concentrated Nicotine can kill someone like this…I’ll try to find a cite.

Around the time of the ricin scares, lots of press reports said that it was lethal in contact with the skin. It turns out that’s not true though.

I remember seeing a movie when I was in grade school, maybe 1963-64 or so. They placed one drop of what they said was pure nicotine on a rabbit’s head. The rabbit spasmed a bit and then died. Total time was maybe 4-5 seconds. This was a “don’t smoke” movie they had going around then and is probably not available now. Other things would be the nerve agents already mentioned.
Aside from that I can’t think of anything so spectacularly toxic that merely touching it would make you shrivel up in your tracks.



It’s slow, but dimethylmercury will apparently do it, and is rumored to go through latex and skin.


Deadly stuff.

Methyl alcohol, i.e. Methanol.
Used in small amount added to Ethanol, drinking alcohol, as a denaturant.
Pure or high percentage methanol can kill by absorption through the skin.

250 grams of lead, moving at Mach 2.


Well, antimatter has a pretty good chance of killing you upon contact with the skin.

Apart from that, contact with as little as 5% of your body with DHMO can kill you within 3 minutes.

They showed you the heartless killing of a rabbit at grade school!? :eek:

Hydrofluoric acid can kill you via absorption through the skin, although you either have to come into contact with it over a large area or in a high concentration. As an added bonus, the effects frequently take time to manifest themselves — essentially, you may not even notice it when it splashes on your skin, but you’ll notice it when it starts reacting with the calcium in your bones. :eek:

Yeah, a big white fluffy one. Things weren’t terribly PC back then or maybe kids just aren’t as delicate/sensitive as is sometimes assumed.
I know it sounds weird now but as I recall, not one student in the (large) class had a problem with it. No tears, shock, revulsion or any other negative rection. The responses were along the lines of “Wow, where can we get some of this stuff.” My own thoughts were that the movie was probably crap as almost everyone’s parents smoked back then and I would have noticed them going into seizures and dying. I wrote the whole thing off as just one more scare-tactic and I think that was the common reaction. When I think back on it, the St. Louis Mo. school system was a weird place then.
God, I sound like Methuselah. :frowning:


Whoa, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that!

Funny thing, the post directly under this post, until I post, was about lightening. Surly that qualifies :smiley:

Two Australian trees produce a contact poison considerably worse that Poison Ivy.
The Tar Tree and the Stinging Tree.

See HERE for details, scroll down.