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This guide exposes the misinformation and disinformation that surrounds many of the controversial chemicals in every-day life. It uses non-technical language to explain the science behind the chemicals which are claimed to be dangerous, polluting or unhealthy, and argues that many are far less dangerous than shock-horror newspaper headlines would have us believe.
Was Napoleon killed by the arsenic in his wallpaper? How did Rasputin survive cyanide poisoning? Which chemicals in our environment pose the biggest threat to our health today? In The Elements of Murder, John Emsley offers a fascinating account of five of the most toxic elements—arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury, and thallium—describing their lethal chemical properties and highlighting their use in some of the most famous murder cases in history. Indeed, we meet in this book a who’s who of heartless murderers. Mary Ann Cotton, who used arsenic to murder her mother, three husbands, a lover, eight of her own children, and seven step children, a grand total of 20 people. Michael Swango, who may have killed as many as 60 of his patients and several of his colleagues during the 20 years he practiced as a doctor and paramedic. And even Saddam Hussein, who used thallium sulfate to poison his political rivals. Emsley also shows which toxic elements may have been behind the madness of King George III (almost certainly…[more]