Sciencemadness Discussion Board

the dollop and the toxic lady of riverside

ahill - 13-3-2017 at 18:51

Gloria Ramirez, 'The toxic lady of Riverside' has been referenced here (on SM) a couple of times. Always in the context of DMSO. The 'official' story of what happened had always seemed implausible to me - but I accepted it, because the chemistry involved was beyond me. Yesterday I came across this humorous retelling of the story by 'The Dollop' podcast hosts. The admittedly non-technical/scientific hosts suggest the reason the explanation is so convoluted is because it is bullshit, and that conspiracy is afoot.

They proffered the also rather implausible counter-theory that the ER had become contaminated with a meth precursor.

I was wondering what individuals with a little more understanding of the potential chemistry involved might make of that theory - are there likely to be such precursors that a single whiff could cause long term breathing issues, hepatitis and avascular necrosis ?

Is that theory any more plausible than the DMSO one ? At least it would explain the irregularities and weird behaviour of the hospital officials, coroner and others.

btw here is the archived New Times Los Angeles article I suspect most of the Dollop episode was based on. (its a quicker read than the ~50 minute podcast.)

[Edited on 14-3-2017 by ahill]

Mabus - 14-3-2017 at 14:06

I never understood how DMSO2 could turn into dimethyl sulfate, as the latter isn't very stable in water, and since the human body is 60-70% water, most of it should have hydrolyzed before it escaped her body. I also couldn't find anything in literature about such transformation.
My personal theory is that whoever sold Mrs. Ramirez the DMSO ointment, probably ordered large amounts of the stuff to make DMSO ointments and sell them, but somehow by accident also got at least one bottle of dimethyl sulfate. Assuming he wasn't a chemist and an alternative med, he probably thought the two are related ("hey, this stuff has three more oxygens, maybe it will oxygenate your body better") and mixed it with DMSO, and that mixture was what Mrs. Ramirez bought and used on herself. Since substances dissolved in DMSO can pass through skin, I assume that's how DMSO4 got in her blood stream without causing her skin burns.

P.S. I wonder if DMSO could act as ligand to DMSO4, to make it more stable in the presence of moisture, need some help with ligand chemistry here.

ahill - 14-3-2017 at 14:47

Perhaps - but it doesnt explain how she was lethally toxic to casual exposure, without being immediately overcome herself. People were passing out just smelling the IV injection site. No one was affected before she got to the ER.

Remember - neither DMSO, DMSO2, nor DMSO4 were (AFAIK) ever actually detected, nor was there any evidence she actually used any of these as medication. It was just postulated that IF she used it, it COULD have oxidized to DMSO2 in the presence of medical oxygen, and that electric shocks administered during emergency defibrillation COULD have converted that to DMSO4.