Panic Over Poison Attacks



The schoolgirls in Iran are under attack. The cause and who are behind these attacks are still unknown.

Over 1,000 Iranian female students have been hospitalized due to a wave of poisonings. Over the last three months, there have been many reports of what authorities believe could be toxic gas.

These poisonings have been occurring all over the country of Iran. Over a dozen all-girl schools all in different parts of the country have been affected by these attacks. These attacks have occurred at 58 different schools all over the country. Recently, more cases have been reported in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

The very first reported case of the poisonings was in November. Eighteen schoolgirls fell ill and were taken to the hospital in the city of Qom.

One girl told BBC Persian that she recalls smelling “something very strange” and “so unpleasant, like rotten fruit but much more pungent.” She also said, “When I went home I was feeling dizzy and sick, my mum was worried because I was so pale and out of breath.” The last thing she added was after other cases surfaced the headmistress and principals “came and told us students to not talk about what had happened.”

The attacks happen through poisonous gas. The victims recall smelling gas or a spray being detected at the school. Witnesses described the smells to resemble a tangerine or rotten fish. Right when the gas was detected, emergency forces were dispatched to the scene. All the girls affected also recall having the same symptoms, feeling dizzy, respiratory problems, nausea, and fatigue. Yet, some are left with some very life-changing effects. One girl reported being paralyzed from the waist down for over a week.

“The early stages of poisoning by most things are pretty similar, your pulse starts to race, you feel faint, you go pale, you get butterflies in your stomach, you feel shaky,” said King’s College psychiatrist and epidemiologist Simon Wesley.

Sadly, the female students are not the only ones affected by the poisings. Other reports showed teachers and other students falling ill, as well as some parents.

In a interview with a semi official ISNA news agency, Iran’s police chief, Ahmad Reza Radan announced, “Our priority is to find the origin of the poisoning of the students, and until then, we will not judge whether it was intentional or unintentional,”after stating that there have been no arrests made.

Many believe that these attacks are occurring to attempt to close all-girls schools, because of anti-government protests. Iranian officials are trying to take blood and urine samples in order to find the chemical that the schoolgirls are being exposed to. Some tests have come back negative with any signs of toxic chemicals.

Officials also believe that it is unlikely that organophosphate poison, like those used in pesticides, is the cause. It has been ruled that the chemical the students were exposed to is a chemical available to the public but not military grade.

Although, there has been speculation that the people responsible for the poisonings are trying to replicate the attacks seen previously in Afghanistan. In 2010, there were alleged poisonings of schoolgirls. Just like in Iran, many schoolgirls fell ill and had to be hospitalized due to poison attacks. Luckily, none of the victims died after falling ill. Despite whoever caused the attacks was never identified, many suspected that the Taliban was behind it since the group wanted girls to stop attending school. Today, the case is still unsolved.

The reason behind the Iranian schoolgirl poisings is still unknown. The families, teachers, and students all hope to see the end of these devastating attacks.