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December 01, 2006


David Gillies

A few quick calculations give a worst-case exposure for a 20-a-day smoker of 32 microsievert per year. Here's my calculations:


Michael J. McFadden

This Polonium/Russian/Smoking thing is simply another example of how Antismokers twist truth to their agenda. In connecting the Russian spy's death to exposure to wisps of secondary smoke they are lying in the same way that a lawyer would be lying if he said he regularly gives to charity while in reality just tossing a penny at a street bum once every ten years.

The amount of polonium that poisoned Litvinenko is estimated by MSNBC to have been 5 millicuries. According to a Dec. 1st Op Ed in the New York Times by Robert Proctor, a cigarette emits .04 picocuries. A millicurie is a thousand microcuries. A microcurie is a thousand nanocuries. And a nanocurie is a thousand picocuries. The Russian was killed by the amount of radiation found in the smoke of one hundred and twenty five BILLION cigarettes.

As far as "secondhand smokers" in a decently ventilated pub or casino go, they'd have to work 40 hour weeks, 50 weeks a year around smokers for roughly 6 billion years to absorb that much poison. And even then that fact would only be true if the Lord High Almighty suspended the laws of physics and did away with polonium's normal half life of 138 days.

And of course there's the problem of excretion. During those 6 billion years our poor pub/casino worker would have to suffer from a rather total case of constipation. I'd guess that when the six billion year mark rolled around our poor poisoned worker would be quite happy to pass from this benighted mortal plane.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"


Quoting becquerels is pointless, this doesn't relate to the dose you receive, much less the TYPE of radiation. Who cares how much radiation a camel contains, are you likely to inhale one?

Nothing concentrates damaging alpha radiation more effectively than smoking cigarettes (apart from obviously swallowing polonium salts directly).

Russell Seitz

I'm all for doing it in Sieverts,as long as you do the math,including the 210 Po excretion half life.
If you do you will sleuth out that the energy absorbed by the pack a day smoker's body is 183000 Bq × 5.4 MeV @ 1.6 10^-13 J/MeV = ~ 2.7 10^-7 J/day.

A quality factor of 20 yields an equivalent dosage .7 x 2.6× 10^-8 J/(kg day, or ~ 10 microsievert per year.

I think equating 10 microseiverts with a death wish bespeaks a certain timidity, but then I assume riding a camel more hazardous than smoking one.

I have recommended the Bactrian species, as in my judgement reducing the risk of falling off outweighs the doubling of the radiation dose by the second hump.


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jeroen lugtigheid

according to Health Physics Society the max. yearly dose of polonium 210 to be regarded 'safe' for workers to ingest is 5000 mrad. A chest X-ray of which Proctor claims a one and a half pack a day smoker receives 300 per year yields 6 mrad. So the smoker would ingests 6 x 300 = 1800 mrad a year according to Proctor. I must admit this is not nothing but you would have to smoke more than four packs a day to start getting worried about polonium 210.

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