Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dioxin Level in Yushchenko’s Blood Down 83% Over 12 Months, Data Show

KIEV, Ukraine -- The level of dioxin, a toxic chemical, in the blood of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko fell by 83% over the past 12 months, according to latest test data revealed on Tuesday.

Viktor Yushchenko after dioxin poisoning in December, 2004

The level is still 1,000 times greater than normal, according to tests taken Nov. 9, Iryna Herashchenko, Yushchenko’s spokeswoman, said. A year ago, when Yushchenko was first diagnosed with dioxin poisoning, the level was reported at 6,000 times the norm.

“The Yushchenko family has just received this information,” Herashchenko said citing the latest test data.

The reduction of the dioxin levels shows the progress that Yushchenko makes while gradually recovering from the poisoning that had nearly cost his life during the last year’s presidential election campaign.

The normal level of dioxin is between 15 and 45 units per gram of blood fat, while Yushchenko has been diagnosed in December 2004 with about 100,000 units by the Free University in Amsterdam.

Almost everyone has some level of dioxins because the toxic chemical is widespread in the environment — mainly from its industrial usages — and accumulates in the food chain.

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 found in Yushchenko a year ago, scientists have said.

The latest tests were ordered by the Prosecutor General Office (PGO) in order to proceed with the investigation into the poisoning that some scientists and Yushchenko have described as the attempted murder.

Although the fact of the poisoning was confirmed by three independent western laboratories in December 2004, the PGO had only now requested official confirmation of the tests in order to proceed with the investigation.

The delays with ordering the tests shows either incompetence or neglect by Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun, who has been fired by Yushchenko last month.

Yushchenko, then a presidential candidate, first fell ill after having dinner with Ukrainian Security Service chief Ihor Smeshko and his deputy, Volodymyr Satsyuk, on Sept. 5, 2004. He reported having a headache about three hours after the dinner, and by the next day had developed an acute stomach ache.

Yushchenko, who was rushed to a Vienna hospital on Sept. 10, later reported pancreatitis and gastrointestinal pain, as well as backache. He also suffered partial nerve paralysis in his face and an inflammation of one inner ear.

About three weeks after his first symptoms, he developed the rough, acne-like rash on his face which is the hallmark of dioxin poisoning.

Dioxin, which settles in the body fat, lasts a long time in the body. Some scientists mentioned liposuction, a procedure that sucks the fat out of the body, as one of the ways of reducing the contamination.

Source: Ukrainian Journal

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