I’m not sure I’ve ever seen nail-polish remover loom this large in the news cycle before. Yesterday, New York news media rushed to report a possible nerve-gas attack at JFK airport in the Big Apple after workers were sickened by a smell from a suspicious package. CNN later reported it as “phosphoric acid.” The New York Post suggested that it was VX, a deadly chemical weapon, as did the New York Daily News … at least initially.
Instead, it turns out to have been that chemical weapon dreaded by husbands everywhere — nail polish remover:
A chemical that sickened two workers Sunday at a Kennedy Airport postal facility turned out to be nail-polish remover, according to a source close to the investigation.
It was not known how the two customs workers were exposed to the product.
No other workers were treated.
The FBI got called in, as they should be whenever a potential threat arises. Instead of waiting to see what the problem might be, though, the media rushed to speculate yesterday and ended up with significant egg on their faces. That’s not to say that the incident may be entirely innocent:
The package was part of a shipment from China, the officials said. …
Port Authority officials said the opened package was sealed in a 55-gallon drum.
Why would nail-polish remover be sealed (poorly, it seems) in a 55-gallon drum for shipping purposes? That does seem a little odd, if not suspicious. Coincidentally, this story from Fox over the weekend might contain a hint:
CVS pharmacy customers are being asked for identification when they buy nail polish remover, WPRI 12 News reports.
The policy, which has been rolled out across southern New England in the past few weeks, means customers must show ID and will be limited on the number of bottles of remover they can purchase, according to the station.
The drugstore chain says the rule is an attempt to curb the making of illegal methamphetamine, and issued this statement, according to the station:
“Because acetone is an ingredient used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, we recently implemented a policy that a valid ID must be presented to purchase acetone-containing products such as nail polish remover. Our policy also limits the sale of these products in conjunction with other methamphetamine precursors and is based on various regulations requiring retailers to record sales of acetone.”
It’s possible that the shipment was intended for something other than removing nail polish from fingernails — or it just might be coincidence entirely. The latter story is worth noting, though, as this kind of policy may not be restricted to New England for long if meth labs are trying to stock up on nail-polish remover as an acetone source for their production. (Note too that this is CVS policy, not state or federal law — yet.) Pharmacies already ration cold medication to prevent the production of meth, and now some people will have to show ID to remove nail polish … but not in order to vote.