Basra, Iraq - In another blow to a nation already reeling from months of U.S. occupation, a new World Heath Organization report suggested that Iraqis may face another humanitarian disaster caused by exposure to potentially harmful finger ink during Sunday's nationwide elections.
According to the report, the ink used to mark fingers of as many as 8 million Iraqis contained traces of a chemical, Dimoxycyclene K-phosphate 3, which has been associated with elevated lesions in laboratory animals. Sold under the trade name of Dyphex, the chemical is used as an additive in various inks and dyes as a fixative and preservative.
Critics noted that the not-yet banned chemical is produced by a RayTel, a Georgia-based firm whose executives contributed over $1800 to the 2004 Bush campaign. Records also show that over 20 gallons of the finger ink was transported to Iraq via Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the controversial firm once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.
"In order to avoid risk, it is critical that Iraqis keep internal consumption of finger ink to less than 100 millileters per day," said WHO spokesperson Francois Garres. "We are desperately trying to get the word out, but we have not gotten the good cooperation with US military officials."
Garres said efforts to educate Iraqis on the dangers of Dyphex were also hampered by widespread street celebrations.