Sunday, 21 July 2013

Similarities between Bihar mid day school poisoning and Spanish toxic oil syndrome of 1982

Forensic tests have confirmed presence of poisonous pesticides in the midday meal served to students of a primary school in Chhapra on July 16, leading to the death of at least 27 children. The cooking oil, used to prepare food at the school, was laced with highly toxic pesticide.

The forensic science laboratory  said the contaminated food contained monocrotophos, an organophosphate insecticide, after experts examined samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and remains of food items in the utensils, additional director general of police.

The peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than five times in comparison to the commercial preparation used as pest control. The police are probing how and from where the poisonous substance got mixed in the oil. The postmortem report had confirmed presence of a poisonous substance in the potato-soyabean curry served to the children.

Toxic oil syndrome

Toxic Oil Syndrome or simply Toxic Syndrome (in Spanish: síndrome del aceite tóxico or síndrome tóxico) was the name given to a disease outbreak in Spain in 1981, which killed over 600 people.

The cause was traced to the consumption of colza oil that had been intended for industrial rather than food use. It had been imported as cheap industrial oil and sold as "olive oil" by street vendors at weekly street markets and was therefore used on salads and for cooking. 

The conclusion that oil was the cause for TOS is based on strong epidemiological evidence, since up to now, experimental studies performed in a variety of laboratory animals have failed to reproduce the symptoms of human TOS. None of the in vivo or in vitro studies performed with toxic-oil-specific components, such as fatty acid anilides and esters of PAP, have provided evidence that these markers are causally involved in the pathogenesis of TOS.

The fact that the first cases of the syndrome were located in Madrid, near the U.S. military base in Torrejón de Ardoz, and the secrecy surrounding the huge investigations, spread the idea of a conspiracy. 

Also, several of those affected by the TOS claim they never consumed that oil. Although the oil was mainly sold on street markets, a considerable percentage of the patients were upper class.

Another theory suggests the toxic reaction was triggered by organophosphate poisoning and covered up by the Spanish Government and the WHO.

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