Thursday, December 16, 2004

AP has a scary story on Yushchenko's poisoning, by Emma Ross, AP Medical Writer:

LONDON - New tests reveal Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko's blood contains the second-highest level of dioxin poisoning ever recorded in a human — more than 6,000 times the normal concentration, according to the expert analyzing the samples.

Abraham Brouwer, professor of environmental toxicology at the Free University in Amsterdam, where the blood samples were sent for analysis, said they contained about 100,000 units of dioxin per gram of blood fat.

However, the concentration could prove to be even higher, or lower, once results are in later this week from a more definitive test, said Arnold Schechter, a specialist in dioxin analysis from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.


Schechter said it also could determine that Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin-like PCBs, rather than dioxins. PCBs were used in electrical transformers and as hydraulic fluid until they were banned in much of the world in the 1970s because they are so toxic and persist so long in the environment.

Brouwer's team has narrowed the search from more than 400 types of dioxin to about 29 and is confident they will identify the poison by week's end. That, in turn, could provide clues to its source.

"From a (chemical) fingerprint, at least you can deduce what kind of sources might have been involved," Brouwer told The Associated Press. "The labs will ... try to find out whether it matches any of the batches of dioxins that are around, so that maybe you can trace it back to where it was ordered or where it came from."


"It was very late before the rash started to develop, so if he had died it would have been a mystery illness of his pancreas, his liver or his gut and they would have said maybe it's some rare bug thing," said John Henry, a toxicologist at London's Imperial College. "He would have died within a few days and nobody would ever, ever have thought of dioxins."


It would not be difficult to deliver the dose Yushchenko received, experts say. If the dioxin he ingested is the most hazardous type, tetrachlorodibenzoparadioxin, or TCDD, it would take only a drop or two, or a tiny amount of powder mixed in food, to poison him.

Most of what is known about the health effects of acute dioxin poisoning comes from experiments on animals. Most animals would die from the levels in Yushchenko's blood.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Neeka, this came in on my server's breaking news service, but I haven't been able to find it in the paper itself, maybe it was too late for the 17th edition, anyway, there's a certain irony in the choice of poison used by Yushchenko's enemies....
    Friday, 17th December, 2004

    Ukrainian presidential candidate Mr Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned
    with TCDD, the most harmful known dioxin and one contained in Agent
    Orange, a scientist who analysed his blood said today.

    The tests showed the TCDD was pure and must have been concocted in a
    laboratory, lead investigator Mr Abraham Brouwer said.

    The tests, confirmed by three labs in the Netherlands and Germany,
    also confirmed that Mr Yushchenko's blood contained 100,000 units of
    the poison, the second-highest concentration on record.

    Doctors announced last weekend that the 50-year-old Mr Yushchenko was
    poisoned with a dioxin chemical that left him disfigured, but MR
    Brouwer told the Associated Press that his team has now zoned in on
    TCDD, the most hazardous of all the dioxins.

    There are hundreds of dioxins and they are usually produced
    inadvertently during manufacturing processes that use chlorine, such
    as those for herbicides, paper and pulp bleaching. Waste incinerators
    also produce dioxins.

    With best wishes