Open Access Research article

Tetramine poisoning in China: changes over a decade viewed through the media’s eye

Yi Li1, Yanxia Gao2, Xuezhong Yu1*, Jingmin Peng3, Fei Ma1 and Lewis Nelson4

Author Affiliations

1 Emergency Department, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100730, P.R. China

2 Emergency Department, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450052, P.R. China

3 Medical Intensive Care Unit, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100730, P.R. China

4 Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, 455 First Avenue, Room 123, New York, New York 10016, USA

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:842  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-842

Published: 13 August 2014



Tetramine, or tetramethylenedisulfotetramine, is an internationally banned compound that had been used primarily as a rodenticide. Despite its regulatory status, there are widespread reports of its intentional use in human poisonings, primarily in China, and often in mass poisonings. Enhanced governmental regulations were implemented in 2003 to further reduce the availability of tetramine, though the effects of these regulations, and the current use of tetramine, remains unknown.


Reports from the website of the China News Agency were collected from 2000 to 2012. Details such as the location, date, and intent of the events were compared before and after the regulations were implemented.


There were a total of 148 events during the study period (95 from 2000 to 2003, and 53 after 2003). There were a total of 3526 victims, including 225 fatalities. The majority of the events were homicidal/terroristic in nature. The incidence of events fell after 2006. More poisoning events occurred in central China, such as Henan and Jiangsu province, and an increase was noted in April and September.


Tetramine poisoning events, as reported in the national Chinese media, fell after the implementation of strict regulation on tetramine. The causal relationship is not known.

Tetramine poisoning; Poisoning control; China