TESTS CONFIRM THALLIUM POISONING
OF TWO U.S. WOMEN
March 9, 2007
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Toxicology tests confirmed Friday that two American
women are suffering from thallium poisoning, according to a California
Marina Kovalevsky, 42, and her daughter, Yanna, 26, were not expected to be released
from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles before the
"Results of their toxicology tests confirm that thallium poisoning occurred," Cedars-Sinai
announced Friday. "The two women continue to receive appropriate treatment for thallium poisoning."
They were in fair condition Friday, according to The Associated Press. They have said
they will not grant media interviews at this time.
They were discharged from a hospital in Moscow, Russia, where they were visiting as tourists, before returning home to Los Angeles, where they live.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow
told CNN that Russian authorities were investigating how the women may have been poisoned.
The two women, who were born in the former Soviet Union,
don't believe they were deliberately poisoned, their lawyer, Frank Capwell, told AP.
"No cloak-and-dagger, no conspiracy theories came to light. It was just painfully obvious
that it was just an accident," he said, according to AP.
Typical symptoms of thallium poisoning include dehydration, heart complications and
Thallium is a bluish-white metal found in trace amounts in the Earth's crust, according
to a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is mainly used in the manufacture of electronic devices, switches and closures.
It once was used as a rat poison, but in 1972 was banned because of its potential harmful effects on humans.
Exposure to thallium occurs mainly through food, the agency said.
In November, former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital of suspected poisoning. Although thallium was initially suspected, traces
of the radioactive substance polonium-210 were found in his body after his death, according to British authorities, who opened
a murder inquiry into the case.
Before he died, Litvinenko accused the Kremlin of orchestrating his poisoning on orders
from Russian President Vladimir Putin, a charge that Putin has strongly denied.