Good news / bad news in Peru

Well, in case you haven’t heard the news yet, it’s a case of good news / bad news for the folks in Peru with the recent meteor impact.

The good news — that illness they came down with wasn’t all in their heads. Well, not for all of them, anyway.

The bad news — the illness is a side-effect of arsenic poisoning.

It turns out (as the BBC briefly alluded to a few days ago) that the ground water in the vicinity of the new impact crater contains high levels of arsenic. The heat of the meteor’s impact vaporized enough of this water to create an arsenic-laced fog around the crater.

In case you’re curious, here are the symptoms of arsenic poisoning (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Symptoms include violent stomach pains in the region of the bowels; tenderness and pressure; retching; vomiting; sense of dryness and tightness in the throat; thirst; hoarseness and difficulty of speech; the matter vomited, greenish or yellowish, sometimes streaked with blood; diarrhea; tenesmus; sometimes excoriation of the anus; urinary organs occasionally affected with violent burning pains and suppression; convulsions and cramps; clammy sweats; lividity of the extremities; countenance collapsed; eyes red and sparkling; delirium; death. Some of these symptoms may be absent where the poisoning results from inhalation, as of arseniuretted hydrogen. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning start with mild headaches and can progress to lightheadedness and usually, if untreated, will result in death.

Please remind me not to try this for myself…

Other writeups are at Bad Astronomy, The Lede, and Wikipedia.

And now AOL as well.

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