[ RadSafe ] Polonium-210 poisoning

Larry Addis ajess at clemson.edu
Sat Sep 10 17:31:42 CDT 2011

Yes, I don't remember the numbers and I'm no novice, but I was surprised to
find out just how radiotoxic and what a small quantity of Po-210 it would
take to do the job. It's pretty easy to get 15 mCi of Po-210 many times
over. Betty Crocker chemistry wild extract the poison relatively easily. It
would have never crossed my mind before Litvinenko.

I had forgotten the movie.  I'll look it up.


-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Otto G. Raabe
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 2:39 PM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Polonium-210 poisoning

September 10, 2011

At London's Millenium Hotel on November 1, 2006, Alexander 
Litvinenko, a Russian defector, was poisoned  with tea containing a 
large amount of polonium-210. He fell ill that very day and died 
after a long hospitalization on November 23. He told investigators 
that he had met with two former KGB agents early on the day he fell ill.

That event reminded me of an old black-and-white movie that I saw in 
1950, and I recently rented it from Netflix. Well, the similarity of 
that story was surprising, especially since that story was written so 
early in the atomic age.

That 1950 movie was named "D.O.A", starring Edmond O'Brien.

While on vacation in San Francisco, an accountant named Frank Bigelow 
is purposely poisoned at a bar with a "slow-acting" poison which the 
doctors called a "luminous poison".  In the movie, the physicians 
detected the poison in the victim's blood using a blood sample mixed 
in a test tube with a scintillation solution and observed the tube 
glowing in the dark. This glowing tube is shown in the movie. The 
doctors reported extensive blood cell damage and told Bigelow that 
his condition was terminal. He had only a few days or weeks to live. 
They said they could have pumped his stomach if he had come in soon 
after he was poisoned, but he did not know that he was poisoned. The 
doctors said that there was no antidote for this "luminous" poison.

Well the story is about how Bigelow searches for the attacker, and it 
is quite interesting especially with all the old scenes in San Francisco.


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