UK thallium and arsenic poisoning case neither accident nor suicide attempt

Chemistry World reports today that the University of Southampton chemistry graduate student poisoned with thallium and arsenic is slowly recovering. A joint university, police, and U.K. Health & Safety Executive found that the poisoning was neither an accident nor a suicide attempt. “Malicious poisoning remains a possible explanation,” Chemistry World says.

The Health & Safety Executive, the U.K. version of the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, did not cite the university for any health and safety violations, Chemistry World says.

Also from the Chemistry World story:

Sources close to the victim, who wish to remain anonymous, spoke to Chemistry World with the student’s agreement, say he survived a dose of thallium that is usually lethal, and is now fighting to regain the ability to walk. ‘Doctors consider him extremely lucky to be alive,’ one source says. …

‘He is currently continuing a rehab programme in hospital,’ a source says. ‘He’s working towards walking again, but clearly the nerve damage to his limbs was rather extensive and regrowth takes time. Currently, standing up is extremely difficult and he’s been in a wheelchair for some time now. He has recovered from hair loss and has most of his hand movement back. I think he would quite like it if more people appreciated the severity of it.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. Jilted lover, jealous colleague, or unpaid bookie?

  2. How easy it to get thallium these days? This could be a nightmare for investigators considering some suspects are in the chem department.

  3. Unstable Isotope,
    The thallium may have come from one of the University of Southampton labs. Caroline L. Peacock and Ellen M. Moon (From U. of S.) published “Oxidative scavenging of thallium by birnessite: Explanation for thallium enrichment and stable isotope fractionation in marine ferromanganese precipitates: in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta in 2012.