The search for a humane method of controlling Australian wild pig populations has led to the recent trial and adoption of sodium nitrite as an effective pig eradication agent. The same goals that led to this common salt being identified as effective in the control of wild pigs, prompted its examination by Exit as a method for peacefully and reliably ending human life. See: http://bit.ly/wildpiginvasion
Historically, and perhaps ironically, sodium nitrite has been widely-used as an anti-oxidant in the curing of common meats such as pork in the production of ham and bacon. The salt blocks the growth of botulism-causing bacteria in the meat and prevents spoilage and gives cured meats their characteristic color and flavor. The widespread use of sodium nitrite makes any effective restriction or legal control highly unlikely.
Mode of Action
At a lethal dose, sodium nitrite reduces a person’s oxygen levels which and leads to central nervous system depression, terminal hypoxia and death. Sodium nitrite does this by entering the blood stream and altering the hemoglobin in red blood cells, causing methemoglobin. Methemoglobin is an altered form of haemoglobin with a much reduced ability to combine and transport oxygen. High methemoglobin blood levels reduce the oxygen carried to the brain and other essential organs which leads to death (while also changing the blood - and one’s skin - to a brownish colour).