World

Yushchenko's dioxin level 2nd highest in history

New tests show Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko had blood levels of dioxin 6,000 times higher than normal.

New test results show that the blood of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, whom doctors believe was poisoned in September, contains a level of dioxin that is 6,000 times higher than normal.

A Dutch toxicology laboratory report, released Wednesday, said the concentration of about 100,000 units per gram of blood fat is the second-highest level ever recorded in a human sample.

A woman in Vienna who had been deliberately poisoned with the synthetic chemical in the mid-1990s recorded the highest-ever blood level, at 140,000 units.

Most people have levels of between 15 and 45 units, accumulated over time because of industrial pollution that makes its way into the food chain.

A hospital in Vienna sent Yushchenko's blood samples to Amsterdam for more detailed analysis after preliminary tests showed his dioxin level was 1,000 higher than normal.

Yushchenko, who is Ukraine's main opposition leader, first felt ill in September while conducting his campaign for the president's job.

His face and torso broke out in lesions that left his skin scarred and swollen, and he suffered severe abdominal and back pain.

Yushchenko blamed his illness on poison administered by Ukrainian officials backing his main opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, perhaps during a Sept. 5 lunch with security officials.

After Ukraine's election commission declared Yanukovych the winner of the Nov. 21 runoff election, which international observers say was marred by many incidents of voting fraud, the country's Supreme Court overturned the result and ordered a new election for Dec. 26.

Yushchenko is expected to recover fully from the dioxin poisoning.

The Dutch toxicologist who performed the latest blood analysis, Abraham Brouwer, told the Associated Press that his team should be able to identify the specific type of dioxin administered by this weekend.