[ RadSafe ] Re: Radioactive Poison Killed Ex-Spy
John R Johnson
idias at interchange.ubc.ca
Sun Nov 26 11:58:40 CST 2006
Jim et al
The progeny of Ra-226 is Rn-222, Po-218, Pb-214, Bi-214, Po-214, Pb-210,
Bi-210, Po-210 and Pb-206 (stable). The longest lived one is Pb-210 (~21
years) and it could be a/the source for Po-210 (half life ~ 138 days)
John R Johnson, Ph.D.
President, IDIAS, Inc
4535 West 9-Th Ave
Vancouver B. C.
idias at interchange.ubc.ca
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl]On
Behalf Of james.g.barnes at att.net
Sent: November 26, 2006 9:29 AM
To: Jerry Cuttler
Cc: RadSafe Bulletin Board
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Re: Radioactive Poison Killed Ex-Spy
Following up on an earlier posting, my Rad Health Handbook lists Po-210 as
being a daughter of Bi-210 "from natural sources." Bi-210 is listed as
having a half-life of approximately 5 days, and is a descendant of Ra-226
(after a number of relatively rapid transformations).
The earlier posting indicated that Bismuth is a very potent poison.
To speculate (rad chemists, help out here), could someone have purified
Bi-210 from a Radium mixture, then administered it to the unfortunate victim
as a chemical poison. Then after the poisonous effects had occurred, the
Bi-210 would eventually transmute to Po-210 before it could be readily
Did anybody look for Bi-210? Is it commonly listed on most gamma spec
-------------- Original message from "Jerry Cuttler"
<jerrycuttler at rogers.com>: --------------
> Does anyone have a good explanation of the mechanism whereby polonium-210
> kills a person that ingests it?
> Radioactive Poison Killed Ex-Spy
> British Say Case of Putin Critic Is Unprecedented
> By Mary Jordan and Peter Finn
> Washington Post Foreign Service
> Saturday, November 25, 2006; A01
> LONDON, Nov. 24 -- Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was fatally
> poisoned by a radioactive substance, traces of which were found in his
> urine, at his home and at a London restaurant and hotel he visited the day
> he became ill, according to the British health department. It called the
> case "unprecedented" in Britain.
> Authorities closed the restaurant and sealed off part of the hotel Friday
> part of an emergency effort to trace the substance, polonium 210, and
> that it does not harm other people. Litvinenko would have eaten, inhaled
> received it through a wound, according to Pat Troop, chief executive of
> Britain's Health Protection Agency.
> Coming after the mysterious poisoning of another prominent opponent of the
> Kremlin, Ukrainian politician Viktor Yushchenko, the death provoked
> accusations that Russia continues to use Cold War-style tactics to
> critics abroad. London was the scene of the 1978 assassination of a
> Bulgarian dissident who was killed by a jab from a umbrella tip bearing
> toxin ricin.
> Litvinenko blamed the Kremlin shortly before he died, according to friends
> and family members. "As I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of
> wings of the angel of death," Litvinenko, 43, said in a dictated
> according to friend Alex Goldfarb, who met reporters while accompanied by
> Litvinenko's tearful father.
> "You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around
> the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your
> life," the statement said. "May God forgive you for what you have done,
> only to me but to beloved Russia and its people."
> Kremlin and Russian security service officials have denied any involvement
> in the poisoning of Litvinenko, who fled to Britain in 2000 after publicly
> accusing the security service of involvement in the bombings of two
> apartment buildings in Russia in 1999 in which 300 people died. Litvinenko
> had been investigating the murder last month of Russian journalist Anna
> Politkovskaya, another critic of the Putin government.
> Litvinenko's death complicated a summit in Helsinki between Putin and
> European Union leaders. Speaking there, the Russian president called
> Litvinenko's death a tragedy, expressing his condolences and pledging his
> country's cooperation in the investigation.
> Addressing allegations that he had ordered the assassination to silence a
> troublesome critic, Putin said, "I hope the British authorities won't fuel
> groundless political scandals." He added, "It is a great pity that even
> tragic things as human death are used for political provocations."
> Putin questioned why Litvinenko's deathbed note had not been made public
> before he died. Putin also said there was no official finding that
> Litvinenko had been murdered. "As I know, the medical certificate of
> doctors does not indicate that he died a violent death," Putin said. "It
> does not say that. Hence there is no reason for such talk at all."
> Troop, the British health chief, said no autopsy had been conducted. She
> not say why, but the BBC reported that "the delay is believed to be over
> concerns about the health implications for those present at the
> Roger Cox, another health agency official, told reporters that radiation
> emitted by the polonium had been detected in Litvinenko's urine.
> John Henry, a toxicologist who was asked by Litvinenko's family to look
> the case and who examined Litvinenko before his death, said the type of
> polonium involved is "only found in government-controlled institutions."
> an interview, Henry called polonium 210 an "extraordinary poison" that is
> lethal in doses so small, "you can lose it on the point of a pin."
> Henry, who took part in the investigation of the 2004 poisoning of
> Yushchenko, then opposition leader and now the president, said that
> 210 "kills cell by cell" and that once it is administered, there's
> "absolutely nothing" that can be done to save the exposed person.
> Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch, which is
> leading the investigation, said police are studying closed-circuit
> television surveillance footage of the places in central London that
> Litvinenko visited Nov. 1, the day he became ill.
> In Friday interviews with Russian news media, a Russian man who met with
> Litvinenko that day said he had been questioned by British officials in
> Moscow and denied involvement in the case.
> Andrei Lugovoy, a former Russian security agent, said Litvinenko called
> and invited him to a meeting to discuss business contacts. He said that he
> and two other men, including one named Dmitry Kovtun, met with Litvinenko
> the Millennium Hotel on Grosvenor Square near the U.S. Embassy.
> He said Litvinenko did not eat or drink anything during their 20- to
> 30-minute meeting. "I'm surprised by how hysterically some are trying to
> me to this," Lugovoy said.
> Police said Friday night that part of that hotel as well as the Itsu sushi
> restaurant that Litvinenko visited had been closed while the investigation
> From London to Moscow, people were trying to sort out who stood to benefit
> from Litvinenko's death.
> Litvinenko's supporters say Putin benefits by eliminating a fierce critic.
> Kremlin defenders say it is not Putin, but rather the Russian leader's
> enemies who gain. The fierce anti-Putin circle in London, including exiled
> Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, has seized on the poisoning as a way to
> smear Putin's reputation internationally, they said.
> Nikolai Kovalyov, chairman of the veterans committee of the lower house of
> the Russian parliament, told the Interfax news agency: "Doubtlessly, it
> not benefit Russia and its special services. . . . It is not in our
> interests at all."
> Kovalyov, who once headed the Federal Security Service, the domestic
> successor to the KGB, added that other "defectors who did incomparably
> harm to Russia than Litvinenko continue to live in the West safe and
> Finn reported from Moscow.
> ----- Original Message -----
> To: "rad-sci-l at wpi.edu"
> Cc: "Kaiser"
> Sent: Saturday, November 25, 2006 11:56 AM
> Subject: Not just a James Bond story
> As I already pointed out in an aricle in "Strahlenschutzpraxis" a few
> ago, there have been various criminal uses of radioactive materials by
> former East Bloc secret services before.
> Regards. Klaus
> >Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2006 16:29:33 +0000
> >From: Brian Gornall
> >Subject: [srp] HPA Press Statement on Alexander Litvinenko
> >X-Originating-IP: 220.127.116.11
> >HPA Press Statement
> >24 November 2006
> >Mr Alexander Litvinenko- Health Protection Agency Statement
> >The Health Protection Agency can confirm that it is providing expert
> >as part of the Metropolitan Police investigations into the death of
> >Alexander Litvinenko.
> >Tests have established that Mr Litvinenko had a significant quantity of
> >radioactive isotope Polonium-210 (Po-210) in his body. It is not yet
> >how this entered his body. Police are investigating this.
> >Po-210 occurs naturally and is present in the environment and in people
> >very low concentrations. As it emits alpha particles, Po-210 can
> >a radiation hazard if it is taken into the body - by breathing it in, by
> >eating it, or if it gets into a wound. It is not a radiological hazard as
> >long as it remains outside the body.
> >The Agency is providing radiological protection advice to staff at the
> >hospitals which treated Mr Litvinenko and specialist monitoring teams
> >also d etermine whether any radioactive polonium-210 contamination has
> >spread in the hospital areas he was cared for. Other specialist
> >teams will examine other locations, including Mr Litvinenko's home.
> >Agency staff will be contacting heath care workers involved in the direct
> >care of Mr Litvinenko, as well as those who may have had very close
> >with him when he was ill - including his family. This will involve a
> >questionnaire and the provision of a urine sample if appropriate.
> >Professor Pat Troop , Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency,
> >said:"Normal hygiene and cleanliness practices in hospitals should have
> >reduced the likelihood of any significant intake by NHS staff and others
> >and therefore any radiation hazard.
> >"Nevertheless it is prudent to monitor as a precaution those people who
> >came into direct and close contact with Mr Litvinenko to ensure there has
> >been no cross contamination - Agency staff are meeting with these people
> >"Other people would not be exposed to radiation simply through being near
> >to Mr Litvinenko. There would be a potential radiological hazard to
> >who could have ingested or breathed in the contaminated body fluids, but
> >this hazard is likely to be restricted to those who have had very close
> >contact with Mr Litvinenko."
> >Notes to Editors:
> > 1. What is polonium 210?
> > Polonium-210 (Po-210) is a radioactive material. It occurs naturally and
> > is present in the environment and in people at very low concentrations.
> > can also be made by irradiation of other materials. Polonium-210 has a
> > half-life of 138 days. It undergoes decay by emitting alpha particles,
> > accompanied by very low intensity gamma rays.
> >Alpha particles do not travel very far -- no more than a few centimetres
> >air. They are stopped by a sheet of paper or by the dead layer of outer
> >skin on our bodies.
> >Polonium-210 is used industrially, for example in anti-static devices in
> >Because polonium-210 is a naturally occurring radionuclide, we all have a
> >very small amount in our bodies. This contributes to the natural
> >dose we all get every year.
> >2. How can polonium-210 harm people?
> >Because it emits alpha particles, Po-210 represents a radiation hazard if
> >it is taken into the body - by inhalation, ingestion or through wound
> >Since Po-210 only emits gamma rays very weakly, it is not a radiological
> >hazard as long as it remains outside the body. If taken into the body,
> >Po-210 is subsequently excreted, mostly through faeces but some is
> >through urine and other pathways. After uptake to blood, Po-210 is widely
> >distributed though soft body tissues including bone marrow. The greatest
> >amounts of polonium-210 are excreted in the first few days after intake.
> >The biological half-time (the time for the level of Po-210 in the body to
> >fall by half) is approximately 50 days. Radiation doses, including those
> >from polonium-210, are assumed to give rise to an increase in lifetime
> >cancer risk. The larger the dose, the larger the risk. Very high
> >doses can cause damage to body tissues and organs and in the extreme can
> >If anyone has been internally contaminated by inadvertently ingesting or
> >inhaling polonium-210, it is most unlikely that they would receive a
> >radiation dose high enough to give rise to medical symptoms.
> >3. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is an independent body that
> >the health and well-being of the population. The Agency plays a critical
> >role in protecting people from infectious diseases and in preventing harm
> >when hazards involving chemicals, poisons or radiation occur. We also
> >prepare for new and emerging threats, such as a bio-terrorist attack or
> >virulent new strain of disease.
> >4. Part of the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards,
> >the Radiation Protection Division carries out the Health Protection
> >Agency's work on ionising and non-ionising radiations. It undertakes
> >research to advance knowledge about protection from the risks of these
> >radiations; provides laboratory and technical services; runs training
> >courses; provides expert information and has a significant advisory role
> >the UK .
> >5. Media enquiries to Katherine Lewis , Regional Communications Manager -
> >Health Protection Agency London, on 020 7759 2824.
> >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> Dr. Peter Hill
> Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
> 52425 Jülich
> ++49-2461-612166 (FAX)
> mailto:p.hill at fz-juelich.de
> Prof. Dr. Klaus Becker
> Boothstr. 27, D-12207 Berlin
> Phone/Fax +49(0)30-7721284
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