Issue Date: March 10, 2008
Ricin Confirmed In Hotel Samples
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has completed testing of environmental samples taken from the Las Vegas hotel room of a man possibly exposed to ricin. CDC spokesman Von Roebuck tells C&EN that "CDC's environmental sample results have confirmed ricin." Urine samples from the man have also been sent to CDC for analysis, but Roebuck says analytical results are not yet available. Ricin is a deadly toxin made from the waste remaining after castor beans have been processed. It is the only substance banned under both the chemical and biological weapons treaties. After the man became ill and was taken to a hospital, where he remains unconscious, hotel management gave Las Vegas police vials of powder and a manual describing how to make ricin, both found in the man's room. Preliminary testing by a Las Vegas hazardous materials unit and by the Nevada National Guard's 92nd Civilian Support Team indicated the presence, but not the amount, of ricin in the vials. To eliminate false positives from these preliminary tests, Nevada asked CDC to run confirmatory tests, which involved time-resolved fluorescence immunoassays and polymerase chain reactions. Roebuck says CDC will release no details on the purity or concentration of ricin in the samples.
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