Corals spew deadly toxin during home fish tank cleaning
An entire family in the UK nearly got wiped out after a fish tank cleaning inadvertently triggered a toxic coral to release a deadly chemical substance into their home.
OXFORDSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM — An family nearly died after the world's second deadliest poison leaked into their home during a fish tank cleaning.
The Washington Post reports that many home aquariums not only hold exotic fish, but also zoanthid corals, which release a highly toxic substance called palytoxin when provoked.
Palytoxin is lethal when ingested or injected into the bloodstream, but can also be dangerous when airborne.
According to a report from the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, scrubbing zoanthids can trigger them to spew the toxin, which spreads as an aerosol and endangers those who inhale it. Vapors released when the coral is boiled in water or broken may also cause damage.
Breathing in the toxin typically causes flu-like symptoms that may include a high fever, muscle pain, coughing, difficulty breathing, and eye irritation.
Experts recommend handling the deadly corals in a well-ventilated space while wearing gloves, eye protection, and face masks.
Pets and small children should also be kept away from any water or substance that has come in contact with zoanthids.
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