[ RadSafe ] Po-210 and lethality

Eric.Goldin at sce.com Eric.Goldin at sce.com
Wed Nov 29 17:09:59 CST 2006

Hey Radsafers,  I'm a little surprised in all this talk and conjecture
about polonium, nobody has referred to Newell Stannard's tome,
"Radioactivity and Health, A History."  (DOE/RL/01830-T59, Pacific
Northwest Laboratory, 1988).  The eminent Dr. Stannard dedicated over 30
pages to a review of all the relevant data on the history of polonium
research, particularly World War II era work on animals, chemistry,
metabolism, biological effects, even polonium in tobacco.  Reminded us that
Polonium was the first radioactive element separated by Marie Curie, well
over a hundred years ago.  There is a lot of discussion on the lethality of
polonium where he pointed out that the acutely toxic doses were very small
masses and that unlike lots of other heavy elements, polonium goes to soft
tissue not bone.  Dr. Stannard noted that the acute pathology is very
similar to whole body radiation, so much so that he didn't bother to repeat
the acute radiation syndrome descriptions.  If you don't have a copy of
this book in your library, time to order one.  I don't recall that it was
all that expensive since it was a DOE publication but at nearly 2000 pages,
well worth the wide spot on your shelf.

Eric M. Goldin, Ph.D., CHP
<eric.goldin at sce.com>

More information about the RadSafe mailing list