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Since You Asked: Cyanide poisoning might be by-product of fire

I've been reading the stories about the Criado family even though it's difficult to wrap your head around how anybody could do something like that.

One thing that has bothered me is how Jordan Criado could be suffering from cyanide poisoning. It sounds like cyanide might be in some of the materials that burned, but could he have taken cyanide?

— Bill S., Medford

Truth be told, a lot of people take cyanide everyday, Bill. When you inhale a cigarette for instance, you're sucking in a little bit of cyanide with each puff.

Now, we're assuming you're not a cigarette smoker, Bill, so it shouldn't be a problem for you.

Just to bring folks up to speed who haven't been in town for a while, police suspect Criado stabbed his wife to death as well as two of his children, Isaac, 6, and Andrew, 5. Preliminary investigation revealed Isaac and Andrew died from stab wounds and carbon-monoxide poisoning. Two other children, Elijah, 7, and Aurora, 2, died from smoke inhalation and carbon-monoxide poisoning.

So far, law enforcement say there is no evidence to indicate that Criado ingested cyanide. Everything we've heard indicates the cyanide is a by-product of materials that burned inside the building.

When the toxicology report on the deaths of the four children is released, our cohorts at the Mail Tribune will be anxious to see whether cyanide poisoning from inhalation was also found.

Criado is in the hospital, so he likely receives constant tests on his blood to check his carbon monoxide and cyanide levels.

According to Medford fire officials, a modern house has many materials that produce toxins when burned. Many plastics, including those found in sofas, will emit cyanide in a fire.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.