Chem-Bio Threat Advisory: Chem-Bio Materials Found

By Kevin G. Coleman spyops

Ricin Found In Hotel Room

A dangerous toxin called ricin was discovered in a Las Vegas hotel on Friday, February 29th, 2008. In addition, the Anarchist Manual and firearms were also found in motel room with ricin. Ricin is made from castor beans, which were also found in the room along with a powdery substance that field tests indicated ricin. Ricin is a substance that is 6,000 times more toxic than cyanide and is considered both a chemical and biological weapon and is explicitly prohibited by the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 500 micrograms of ricin -- about the size of a pin head -- is enough to kill an adult.

There were seven people hospitalized and one is comatose in critical condition.

RICIN— is considered both a chemical and biological weapon. It is a poison that can be made from the waste left over from processing castor beans. Ricin can be found in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet and can also be dissolved in water or a weak acid. It is minimally affected by extreme conditions such as very hot or very cold temperatures.

Ricin invades human cells and prevents the cells from making the proteins they need to survive. Eventually the whole body is impacted, and death occurs. The symptoms and effects of ricin poisoning depend on whether ricin was inhaled, ingested, or injected. If you believe that people have inhaled ricin, a potential clue would be numerous people who have been in the same area and many suddenly developed fever, cough, and excess fluid in their lungs. These symptoms could be followed by severe breathing problems and possibly death. Currently, there are no widely available, reliable test exists to confirm that a person has been exposed to ricin.

The possibility of public health emergencies arising in the United States concerns many people in the wake of the recent discover of ricin in Las Vegas. Security and safety professionals, law enforcement and first responders needs be able to recognize the threat this Chem-Bio material poses and make places for response and management to an incident involving ricin. There are many people that feel it is impossible to be prepared for unexpected biological terror events, However, taking preparedness actions, (including training) helps business, government and industry deal with CBRNE events more effectively when they do occur.

For additional information please see the Spy-Ops chemical and biological training briefs. If you are involved in an incident, you should use the Terrorism Response Management System templates as a guide.