Gloria Ramirez was an American woman dubbed "the Toxic Lady" by the media when several hospital workers became ill after exposure to her body and blood. She had been admitted to the emergency department while suffering from late-stage cervical cancer. While treating Ramirez, several hospital workers fainted and others experienced symptoms such as shortness of breath and muscle spasms. Five workers required hospitalization, one of whom remained in an intensive care unit for two weeks.
Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Ramirez died from complications related to cancer. The incident was initially considered to be a case of mass hysteria. An investigation by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proposed that Ramirez had been self-administering dimethyl sulfoxide as a treatment for pain, which converted into dimethyl sulfate, an extremely poisonous and highly carcinogenic alkylating agent via a series of chemical reactions in the emergency department. Although this theory has been endorsed by the Riverside Coroner's Office and published in the journal Forensic Science International, it is still a matter of debate in the scientific community.
Two months after Ramirez died, her badly decomposed body was released for an independent autopsy and burial.The Ramirez family's pathologist was unable to determine a cause of death because her heart was missing, her other organs were cross-contaminated with fecal matter, and her body was too badly decomposed. On April 20, 1994 ten weeks after her death Ramirez was buried at Olivewood Memorial Park in Riverside California.
There have been many different theories as to which what caused her condition but there has never been a general agreed upon cause for her case.