[ RadSafe ] Polonium-210 poisoning

Busby, Chris C.Busby at ulster.ac.uk
Sun Sep 11 03:39:20 CDT 2011

Yes. Interesting. Everyone blamed the Russians because it was said that only someone with access to a reactor could have put the poison together i.e. it was not a amateur job. But it is easy to separate Po210 from old radium tubes with nitric acid and baking soda; a kitchen job, though you'd have to be jolly careful. I think KGB would have far more sophisticated ways of killing someone.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at agni.phys.iit.edu on behalf of Otto G. Raabe
Sent: Sat 9/10/2011 7:38 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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