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RE: What's the sodium for?

But, Paul, the statement was "sodium is poisonous".  This statement, as
made, would apply to all sodium compounds.  This is simply not true.
Certainly there are sodium compounds which are most definitely poisonous,
to whit, sodium cyanide or sodium arsenate.  They are poisonous because of
the presence of the *other* part of the compound, not because they contain
sodium.  Consider the four compounds, sodium chloride, sodium cyanide,
potassium chloride, and potassium cyanide.  Both of the cyanide compounds
are highly toxic.  The chlorides are not toxic.  Now, just where does the
toxicity of the two cyanide compounds come from?  Certainly not the sodium
or potassium portion of the two compounds.

>Whether these compounds are poisonous or not, I don't know.  However, it's
>erroneous to say that a compound is not poisonous because one or more of
>the elements that make up the compound are not poisonous.  Compounds do not
>retain the same chemical properties as the elements that make them up.

Of course.  However, certain properties such as toxicity can be and are
retained.  Mercury in the free elemental state and also in all its
compounds (assuming they are soluble enough) are quite toxic.  Ditto
arsenic.  Ditto lead, barium, etc.  Sodium simply does not fall into this

>Example?  Carbon monoxide is definately a poison but carbon and oxygen are

Well, now that we get to it, oxygen in high concentrations can be
considered to be toxic to some extent.  But that's a hearse of a different
color.  :-)

*  Robert L. Myers  rmyers@inetone.net    Home 304-574-2372/1166  *
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