[ RadSafe ] Re: Radioactive Poison Killed Ex-Spy

edmond0033 edmond0033 at comcast.net
Sun Nov 26 20:43:14 CST 2006

Alpha Emitters in the body are dangerous as they can cause a lot of damage 
to nearby tissues.  Polonium-210 decays with an alpha energy of  ~5.3 MeV 
(100%).  It also has a gamma energy of 0.803 MeV (0.0011%).  If one ingests 
and/or inhales enough to cause it to be fatal, you would expect to be able 
to detect the gamma energy.  Polonium-210 coated beads have be used as 
anti-static agents in manufacturing.  They contain fairly large quantities 
of Polonium-210.  It is natural occurring from its parent Radium-226.  It 
also can be made by the reaction of Bi-209 (stable) (n,Gamma)Bi-210, the 
latter being radioactive.
Just a few thoughts.

Ed Baratta
edmond0033 at comcast.net

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <james.g.barnes at att.net>
To: "Jerry Cuttler" <jerrycuttler at rogers.com>
Cc: "RadSafe Bulletin Board" <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Sent: Sunday, November 26, 2006 12:29 PM
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 detected.
> Did anybody look for Bi-210?  Is it commonly listed on most gamma spec 
> libraries?
> Jim Barnes
> -------------- Original message from "Jerry Cuttler" 
> <jerrycuttler at rogers.com>: -------------- 
>> Folks,
>> Does anyone have a good explanation of the mechanism whereby polonium-210
>> kills a person that ingests it?
>> Jerry
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
>> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/24/AR2006112400410.
>> html?referrer=email
>> 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 
>> as
>> part of an emergency effort to trace the substance, polonium 210, and 
>> ensure
>> that it does not harm other people. Litvinenko would have eaten, inhaled 
>> or
>> 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 
>> eliminate
>> 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 
>> the
>> 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 
>> statement,
>> 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, 
>> not
>> 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 
>> such
>> 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 
>> British
>> 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 
>> did
>> 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
>> examination."
>> 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 
>> into
>> the case and who examined Litvinenko before his death, said the type of
>> polonium involved is "only found in government-controlled institutions." 
>> In
>> 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 
>> Ukraine's
>> Yushchenko, then opposition leader and now the president, said that 
>> polonium
>> 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 
>> him
>> 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 
>> at
>> 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 
>> tie
>> 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
>> continued.
>> 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 
>> did
>> 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 
>> more
>> harm to Russia than Litvinenko continue to live in the West safe and 
>> sound."
>> Finn reported from Moscow.
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From:
>> 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 
>> years
>> 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:
>> >...........
>> >
>> >HPA Press Statement
>> >
>> >24 November 2006
>> >
>> >Mr Alexander Litvinenko- Health Protection Agency Statement
>> >
>> >The Health Protection Agency can confirm that it is providing expert 
>> >advice
>> >as part of the Metropolitan Police investigations into the death of
>> >Alexander Litvinenko.
>> >
>> >Tests have established that Mr Litvinenko had a significant quantity of 
>> >the
>> >radioactive isotope Polonium-210 (Po-210) in his body. It is not yet 
>> >clear
>> >how this entered his body. Police are investigating this.
>> >
>> >Po-210 occurs naturally and is present in the environment and in people 
>> >at
>> >very low concentrations. As it emits alpha particles, Po-210 can 
>> >represent
>> >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 
>> >two
>> >hospitals which treated Mr Litvinenko and specialist monitoring teams 
>> >will
>> >also d etermine whether any radioactive polonium-210 contamination has
>> >spread in the hospital areas he was cared for. Other specialist 
>> >monitoring
>> >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 
>> >contact
>> >with him when he was ill - including his family. This will involve a 
>> >simple
>> >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
>> >urgently.
>> >
>> >"Other people would not be exposed to radiation simply through being 
>> >near
>> >to Mr Litvinenko. There would be a potential radiological hazard to 
>> >people
>> >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. 
>> > It
>> > 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 
>> >in
>> >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
>> >factories.
>> >
>> >Because polonium-210 is a naturally occurring radionuclide, we all have 
>> >a
>> >very small amount in our bodies. This contributes to the natural 
>> >radiation
>> >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
>> >entry.
>> >
>> >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 
>> >excreted
>> >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 
>> >radiation
>> >doses can cause damage to body tissues and organs and in the extreme can 
>> >be
>> >fatal.
>> >
>> >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 
>> >protects
>> >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 
>> >in
>> >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
>> S-B
>> 52425 Jülich
>> Germany
>> ++49-2461-615081
>> ++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
> _______________________________________________
> You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list
> Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood 
> the RadSafe rules. These can be found at: 
> http://radlab.nl/radsafe/radsaferules.html
> For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings 
> visit: http://radlab.nl/radsafe/

More information about the RadSafe mailing list