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“Like a needle in a haystack”: why Novichok is so hard to decontaminate

The couple recently exposed near Salisbury reportedly had high concentrations of Novichok on their fingers. How did it get there—and why will it be so hard to decontaminate the town?

By Robert Chilcott  

A man and a woman were found unconscious in Wiltshire, England, on June 30, after having been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok [the woman, Dawn Sturgess, has since died in hospital]. This is the same substance that was used to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March.

The second incidence of poisonings has reignited fear and speculation about the substance. According to Google, there has been…

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