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Novaya Gazeta discloses substance used in suspected chemical attack on their office last month

The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has determined that the substance sprayed near the entrance of their editorial office last month was mainly composed of 4-ethylphenol and 3-methylindole (otherwise known as skatole).

According to Novaya Gazeta, contact with high concentrations of 4-ethylphenol (97 percent and above) in its liquid form causes serious eye irritation and skin irritation, though it’s not dangerous if inhaled.

A 99 percent concentration of skatole is acutely toxic if ingested, the newspaper notes. Concentrations of this substance can also irritate the respiratory tract, leading to coughing or even suffocation. Skatole in its liquid form also causes skin irritation. However, low concentrations of skatole aren’t dangerous to humans.

On Monday, March 15, journalists at the Novaya Gazeta office complained about a pungent, chemical smell near the entrance of the building on Potapovsky Lane in downtown Moscow. Emergency services arrived on the scene, but subsequently reported that they didn’t find any increased concentrations of harmful substances in the air.

A video from a surveillance camera near the Novaya Gazeta office later revealed a person in a Yandex courier uniform walking a bicycle up to the building and then spraying gas from its back wheel.

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