[ RadSafe ] Book review: Plutonium: A History of the World'sMostDangerous Element

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Thu May 3 11:59:49 CDT 2007

I've also often wondered about the "World's Most Dangerous Element"
designation, or the equally popular "World's Most Dangerous Substance".
While I always encourage people to keep their inhalation or ingestion of
plutonium to a minimum, there are a fair number of other things for
which I offer the same advice.  From a chemical toxicity point of view,
there are whole classes of chemicals that on a weight-per-weight basis
are worse (all the nerve gasses come to mind, for example).  As for
"elements", I suspect that the negative consequences of consuming any of
the alkaline metals in their metallic form would beat metallic
plutonium.  Probably breathing chlorine of fluorine gas has worse and
more immediate consequences.

On the radioactivity side, there is no question:  There are PLENTY of
isotopes that are worse to have in your body than any of the isotopes of
plutonium (on either an equal mass or an equal number of atoms basis).
Polonium-210, used with such telling effect last year, is a good
example.  Indeed, one can make a strong argument that radon-222 it
radiologically more dangerous than any isotope of plutonium found
outside of the lab, with the difference being that far more people
(read: everybody) is exposed to radon more often (read: constantly) than
would be the case with plutonium in all but the most impossibly absurd
scenarios (read: the ones uncritically repeated by the media when and
activist spouts it).


-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of John R Johnson
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 7:39 AM
To: John Jacobus; radsafe; know_nukes at yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Book review: Plutonium: A History of the
World'sMostDangerous Element


Thanks for posting this review.

A title with the words "World's Most Dangerous Element" always makes me
ask the question, on what basis? If we look at the dose per unit
activity intake, the ICRP/NCRP number have Th-Nat (which is everywhere!)
is a little more dangerous than Pu-239, which make thorium the "most
dangerous element".

John R Johnson, PhD
Vancouver, B. C.
(604) 222-9840
idias at interchange.ubc.ca

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