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Litvinenko Was Radiating Radiation - Literally

Traces of radiation have been found in additional sites in London. It appears that Litvinenko left a trail of radiation everywhere he went:

LONDON (Reuters) - Traces of radiation have been found at several more sites in London during investigations into the death of a former KGB spy last week, British Home Secretary John Reid said on Monday.

Reid told parliament that indications of radiation had been found at "several other premises" in addition to Alexander Litvinenko's home and at a hotel and restaurant he visited on November 1, the day he fell ill. But Reid said there was no need for public alarm.

Litvinenko died last week, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of murdering him, and significant amounts of highly radioactive polonium-210 were found in his body. Russia strongly denies involvement.

The poor guy. He must have really suffered in his last hours. I can't even imagine what radiation poisoning of that level must have been like.

The AP reports that three people who came into close contact with Litvinenko need to get tested for radiation poisoning:

Radiological testing has been ordered for three people who may have come into contact with the poison that killed a former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic, health officials said Monday, as the government opened a formal inquest into his death.

Traces of radiation were found at two restaurants and the home of the ex-spy, Alexander Litvinenko. Health officials, however, said there was no immediate public health danger.

Hundreds who went to the Millennium Hotel or Itsu Sushi _ or came into contact with Litvinenko in the past month_ called a health hotline after the former's spy death on Thursday, but only 18 people were referred to the Health Protection Agency. Out of those 18, three exhibited symptoms that health officials thought should be examined at a special clinic as a precaution, said Katherine Lewis, a spokeswoman for the agency. She refused to elaborate.

Health officials will test the urine of the three _ none of whom were health workers who treated Litvinenko, Lewis said. The tests should take about a week.

I don't even like considering the horrible consequences, but just imagine the panic that would ensue if terrorists got a hold of polonium-210 and released it in multiple locations.

Comments (2)

While extremely radioactive... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

While extremely radioactive (5,000 time more radioactive than Radium), Polonium 210 is an alpha emitter, which is the least penetrating form of radiation. It can't even penetrate human skin. However, if ingested or inhaled it's 250 billion times as toxic as hydrogen cyanide. Luckily it's very rare in nature and must be produced in a nuclear reactor, such as those Iran wants to build. Also, with a half-life of just 138.376 days, it's hard to stockpile.

He wasn't radiating, more l... (Below threshold)

He wasn't radiating, more like leaking radiation where ever his body fluids may have been. As Mac alluded to, an alpha emitter can not penetrate the outer layer of your skin. So, standing in front of an alpha source, while you will be able to measure the field, you will not be absorbing any of the radiation.

The opposite is quite true if you ingest the alpha source however. The soft tissues of your internals acts much like a sponge for alpha and readily absorbs the radiation and suffers the consequences.

Just as a little aside, ever wonder why cigarette smoking causes so much cancer? While I was in the service there was a nice little demonstration of the wonders of air samplers and what is contained in cigarette smoke. We had a gent who smoked in our group, he was asked to light up and exhale into the sampling filter, then the filter was read with an alpha detector. The detector emits a chirp for every event and when the instructor placed the detector over the filter, at a distance of half an inch, it literally screamed from the alpha emitted. Radiation interactions with the cells causes cell damage, cell damage can result in cancer.

So for all of you smokers out there, think about that next time you light up.






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