Investigation After Student Poisoned
Police in Southampton and the Health and Safety Executive are jointly investigating after a 25-year-old Southampton University PHD chemistry student became ill around three weeks ago.
Tests have now established that the student had a quantity of the chemicals thallium and arsenic in their body.
It’s is not known at this stage how the chemicals entered the student’s body but as a precaution Southampton University has closed some of it’s research chemistry labs while investigations continue and police establish how the poisons got into the victim’s body.
People who work in the relevant areas of the University will be given the opportunity for voluntary screening.
Police say they're working closely with the University, the Health Protection Agency and the HSE.
They say it has already been established this does not relate to any leak or airborne emission from the buildings and is not transmittable and may not be connected with the University at all.
The affected student is currently being treated at a specialist toxicology unit at a hospital in Cardiff.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service specialist HAZMAT officers are assisting with the investigation and are conducting tests within a property in Burgess Road.
This is being treated as an isolated incident and staff and students at the University and other members of the public are not believed to be at risk.
Detective Chief Inspector Pete McGowan said:
“We are keeping an open mind on how the student has been exposed to the chemicals and are investigating all scenarios at the moment.
“We and the HSE are leading this enquiry and we have no reason to think that there is any risk to public health.”
University Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adam Wheeler, said:
“Our thoughts are with our student and their family at this difficult time for them. The University’s student support staff are providing them with further assistance.
“The safety of our staff and students is of paramount importance to the University and we have proactively taken measures to ensure their health and well-being. At part of this we are co-operating with and taking advice from the relevant authorities.”