Life-saving kit

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Australian chemists have developed a simple test kit, which could help prevent millions of Africans from being poisoned by the cyanide that occurs naturally in cassava, their staple food. The test involves mixing 100 mg of cassava with 0.5 ml of water. The mixture is then placed on paper containing the enzyme linamarase, which reacts with cyanide compounds, releasing hydrogen cyanide. This gas is detected with a strip of yellow paper containing picric acid. Hydrogen cyanide turns the paper orange and then brown (New Scientist, Vol 154, No 2078).

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