Acridine is a colourless crystalline organic solid that is obtained from coal tar, with a nitrogen heterocycle with the formula C13H9N. Acridines are typically substituted derivatives of the parent ring.
Related in a structural sense to anthracene, acridine is a planar molecule, with one of the central CH groups replaced by nitrogen.
Acridine is slightly basic, similarly to related molecules pyridine and quinoline. It’s a virtually clearless solid, and typically crystallises into needles. Acridines were typically used as dyes, and its name is a reference to the acrid smell and skin irritating effects of the substance.
Acridine has quite a number of uses across various applications, including for making and developing drugs and dyes. The most well-known is acridine orange, which is a fluorescent dye used for cell cycle determination – this substance typically stains DNA and RNA so that DNA emits a green colour and RNA a red colour. There is also the acridine proflavine which is used an antiseptic.
The main routes of exposure to acridine are ingestion, inhalation and skin contact, and the substance affects a number of bodily systems, including the respiratory and intergumentary (hair, skin, nails and exocrine organs) systems.
How badly acridine affects you depends on how you were exposed to it, and the type of exposure. For example, inhalation can irritate the respiratory system, but if those affected already have impaired respiratory function then they’ll be increasingly affected by acridine exposure. Swallowing large amounts of acridine can lead to death. Getting it on your skin can cause dermatitis and phototoxicity, as well as possibly exacerbating any pre-existing skin conditions. Eye exposure to acridine can lead to irritation and eye lesions.
Chronic exposure to acridine leads to widespread toxicity. Long term exposure to the compound can cause breathing difficulties and systemic respiratory problems. Acridine can be carcinogenic and might produce cumulative health effects.
Swallowed acridine? Don’t induce vomiting, and contact a medical professional ASAP!
Got it on your skin? Then avoid any further direct contact with contaminated clothing. Wearing protective clothing and remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories. Do not re-wear any affected clothing until it has been thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated. Rinse your skin with soap and flowing water for at least 30 minutes, and contact a doctor immediately.
For eye exposure to acridine, flush eyes (including under the eyelids), with fresh running water for at least 30 minutes. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by skilled personnel, but don’t stop flushing due to the lens. Contact a medical professional at once.
If someone inhales acridine, move them to a fresh air source. Keep them warm and rested. Any dental prosthesis, such as false teeth, should be removed prior to conducting CPR. Contact a doctor immediately.