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Fields & Applications Forensics, Mass Spectrometry

Deathly Metal

A mass spec standardization method has recently shed light on a cold case of thallium poisoning. Richard Ash (the University of Maryland's Department of Geology), analyzed hair strands from student Zhu Ling, who was poisoned by the heavy metal over 20 years ago. One hair showed sporadic but increased exposure over a few months; another that started growing later showed that large doses were ingested over a two-week period (1).

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  1. T Matsukawa et al., “Changes in thallium distribution in the scalp hair after an intoxication incident”, Forensic Sci Int, 291, 230-233 (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.08.019
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A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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