Thallium Poisoning

A slightly odd report in The Guardian about a case of thallium poisoning in Iraq.

Thallium is a highly toxic soft radioactive metal that was once widely used in rat poisons and insecticides.

It ain\’t, I\’m afraid, radioactive. There may or may not be radioactive isotopes (I\’ve not bothered to look that up) but the commercial material itself is not radioactive.

There\’s also one other thing about this. The individuals may well have been poisoned by thallium. But not, perhaps poisoned by thallium, if you get my rather odd meaning.

"This is a disturbing incident," said Mohammed Abbas, a police official. "The use of thallium in this way appears to show that someone in Adhamiya is reviving the techniques of the mukhabarat [the Saddam-era secret police].

"What happens if al-Qaida gets the know-how? We are urgently trying to discover how much thallium is out there and who would know how to utilise it."

This information is a little out of date but certainly there was (perhaps still is) a thallium based cockroach poison. And yes, it was (perhaps is) popular in the Middle East. So while it is indeed thallium poisoning, the cure for which is Prussian Blue, from the point of view of the poisoner it\’s not so much that, it\’s adding cockroach "chalk" (that\’s the form the insecticide comes in) to the food. It\’s not a matter of "know how" really.

3 thoughts on “Thallium Poisoning”

  1. Well that’s you and this blog banged up for 10 years under Section 58(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2000.

    Pity, really – I have enjoyed your sharpened points and occasional meanderings.

    Oh, Thallium 204 is the most stable radio-isotope (half life a bit less than 4 years), 203 and 205 are the stable ones. Full details, which may get me in the adjacent cell, here.

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