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NATION IN BRIEF : TENNESSEE : Presidential Remains Tested for Arsenic

June 22, 1991|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee irradiated hair and nail samples from President Zachary Taylor's remains in a uranium-fueled reactor to determine if the nation's 12th President died of arsenic poisoning. Larry Robinson of the lab's analytical chemistry division said arsenic releases a distinctive gamma ray after irradiation, which means that nuclear technology can detect and measure microscopic quantities of the poison. Lab spokesman Joe Culver said it was unclear how long it will take to complete the tests. An author contends that Taylor was poisoned in 1850.

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