Thursday, September 6, 2007

Nontoxic solvent—the silent killer?

Following up our post from last week, today the AP reports that the substance found at a U.N. office in Manhattan recently that was suspected of being a chemical warfare agent appears to be a nontoxic solvent.

From the story:

Preliminary results indicate the substance was a nontoxic solvent, not the chemical agent phosgene, the U.N. official said.

“If it turns out to be something that was mislabled, we’ll need to find out why it was mislabled,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the final results have not yet returned from the lab.

The U.N. has launched an investigation into how the substance ended up in the files for so long without anyone knowing what it was.

Before all you U.N. bashers get ready to blast away, just take a moment here.

I mean, any one of us would have easily misread something labeled “WMD” as weapon of mass destruction instead of washing machine detergent.

Paint thinner, phosgene — they’re not that far apart, folks.

We all should say thank you to the international community for confiscating Saddam’s stockpile of antifreeze and turpentine. The world is a better place.

-FRANCIS SMITH, Special Publications Assistant Editor

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