[QODLink]
Europe
Interview: Effects of Polonium
Test results show high level of Polonium, a highly radioactive element inside Yasser Arafat's body when he died.
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2012 23:28

A nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera has revealed that Yasser Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004.

Further tests revealed that Arafat's final personal belongings – his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element.

Those personal effects, which were analysed at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, were variously stained with Arafat’s blood, sweat, saliva and urine.

The tests carried out on those samples suggested that there was a high level of polonium inside his body when he died.

So what does Polonium do to a person?

It is actually harmless when it's outside the body, but inside, it becomes one of the deadliest substances known.

An amount equivalent to the size of a particle of dust is lethal.

After being taken into the body, Polonium quickly gets into the blood stream. Then it bombards people's cells with millions of radioactive alpha particles.

It damages the organs - first the liver and the kidneys, causing jaundice. It damages the intestines, cuasing toxic shock syndrome. And finally, it attacks the heart.

Al Jazeera talks to David Barclay, a forensic scientist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

204

Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
At least 25,000 displaced people have gathered on the northern border, with more on the way trying to escape attacks.
Remnants of deadly demonstrations to be displayed in a new museum, a year after protests pushed president out of power.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.