Mar 11 2007

The Biology Of Polonium Poisoning

The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) has come out with a scientific paper on the mechanics of radionuclide poisoning – one example of which would be Po-210 poisoning. It is important to understand each element has unique chemical traits due to the atomic number and the number of free electrons. This means Polonium bonds to tissues differently than uranium, and different forms of Polonium will have different radiation levels. Lots of factors to keep track of, but some things are absolutely clear from this new report.

The report makes some general assumptions which should be kept in mind – they key of which is for any ingested dose only 10% makes it into the body’s system itself. So for every dose only ten percent gets into the body to do damage. This rule of thumb seems to be born out with animal studies. It is possible influx rates could be higher, like 15%, but I would guess the 10% number is pretty solid. The long term excretion rate is then a percentage of the 10% of material that makes it into the body. In Litvinenko’s case the constant throwing up and days spent trying to get food down means much of his dose was flushed from his body before he even hit the hospital. So I think the 10% number for ingestion is good, but it is possible he inhaled the Po-210, as will be shown near the end of this post.

What is interesting is the processes for entering the body and then how Po-210 flows throughout the various tissues. The model they use, again based on studies of observing human victims of radiation (accidents, WWII) and animal studies is there are three paths into the body. Wound, Inhalation and Ingestion. Interstingly, the mechanics of Inhalation are deemed identical to those of an Wound. The Ingestion path is different than the other two (though there is a path for inhaled radionuclide material to enter the digestive tract). This is represented in Figure 1 of the report, for those interested.

What happens once the material is in the body is also interesting. Figure 5 shows that the Po-210 will congregate into certain tissues – usually due to the bonding preferences of the tissues with the Polonium. One note: the document appears to address the salt form of the material (it is tough to keep track of which data goes with which form of which element), so there is no way to determine the accuracy of any of this concerning exposures to the non-salt forms of Polonium Anyway, what is clear is the material collects much more in the liver, skin and kidneys. But since each tissue has a different response or tolerance to radiation, the effective dosage is low in skin but high in the liver and kidneys (Figure 7). What is clear in all of this is the time for building up the material and dosage is on the order of days after exposure- not hours. Nearly all the material assumes a single exposure. So when we look at the Po-210 trail across London we cannot conclude the trail is excretions from Litvinenko – it must be from Po-210 being carried on a person or their clothes. The trail covers less than 24 hours, the studies show the Polonium moves and congregates in tissues over many days.

Moreover, figure 6 shows the excretion paths out of the body. The graph is a log chart so each line is a factor of ten. On the bottom is loss through the skin, which includes sweat. only a hundredth to a tenth of the 10% that is actually taken into the body comes out through the pores, and it takes days to do so. Next is urine with most of the full exposure coming out through feces (which makes sense since 90% doesn’t make it into the system).

This establishes the fact that the P0-210 trail, especially hot spots like the Millenium hotel Room, the Millenium Hotel Pine Bar, and probably the Itsu restaurant and Beresovsky’s offices were not contaminated by sweat. Not possible. These spots could only be from the source material being carried and dropped from outside a person’s body or on their clothes. The big spot on the rug in the hotel room was clearly material being dropped. The contamination on the light switch in the same room was clearly the material that ended up on the hand of someone who cleaned up some of the Po-210 spill and who used the light switch (any bets there is a hot fingerprint there?). There is no way for sweat to produce a strong signature within hours, let alone days (and the Russians where only at the Millenium Hotel for three days). For the sweat to be hot lliek this the person doing the sweating should have died very quickly.

This is not speculation – there is no other answer given this data. The trail in London (and probably Germany and Moscow) is from the material itself. That means the authorities know the form of the material and I would now suggest it was the salt form (since this is the focus of this HPA report). And it was Po-210 in a salt form on the outside of someone that was traipsed it all over London. That means the Po-210 salt was created in a laboratory outside London, clearly indicating the material was being smuggled in very large quantities. Since the processing of Po-210 salt is not trivial, it means the Po-210 was processed outside England, else the use of a London or UK lab would be an easy tip off. And, if the Po-210 is not produced and shipped in a salt form from Russian production sites, it means someone collected the Russian product and transformed the normal Po-210 metallic product into a salt form before smuggling it into London. Why would someone go through the trouble?

Another thing stated in the report is the biological effect is twice as high for inhalation than for ingestion. I had wondered about whether this would be the case, but animal studies prove this out. Since the lungs act more as an open wound with direct access to the blood stream this makes sense. Also, the small percentage of material ingested which makes it into the blood flow makes sense as well (in low doses the stomach and intestinal walls are as protective as the skin).

Another item of interest is the fact there is a lesser effective dose when exposed over long periods than when hit all at once. It seems the body can repair itself and expunge the material somewhat over ‘protracted doses’. Since it is clear Litivinenko was exposed at least twice, it could mean his final dose was of a form or level much greater than his first dose. This doesn’t fit well with the idea of a bungled first attack since such microscopic doses are absolutely lethal. No one could actually see the differing amounts of a low dose to the dose that killed Litvinenko, let alone manipulate either of the doses with any sense of control. So the idea someone used a ‘low dose’ the first time is a physically absurdity.

Finally, I want to return to the fact that inhaling the Po-210 is much more dangerous than ingestion, and the science is based on human observations from Russia – something you would think a Russian assassin would have researched if they planned to use this new, exotic assassination method. From the report:

Few human data are available on the effects of 210 Po. A Russian case is of interest, in which a male worker accidentally inhaled an aerosol of 210 Po (Ilyin 2001). Death occurred after 13 days. Organ content was estimated by the author as 13.3 MBq in lung, 4.5 MBq in kidneys and 21 MBq in liver. Daily urinary excretion was estimated as about 0.4 MBq. Total retention was estimated as about 100 MBq. Vomiting was severe at the time of admittance to a clinic, 2 to 3 days after the intake. A high fever was reported but there was no diarrhoea.

These symptoms are very similar to Litvienko’s, death just happened to occur much faster (half the time). I still believe Litvinenko, Kovtun and Lugovoi were in the Millenium hotel room when the spill happened, and the difference in their respective illnesses is due to how much Po-210 got into them – and how. If Lugovoi and Kovtun had mostly ingested some of the material, or simply inhaled less than Litvinenko, then that is why they are alive today and Litvinenko died. I have said many times Litvinenko’s symptoms pointed more to inhalation than to ingesting a poison. I am now more convinced that might be the case. I find it hard to believe all this Po-210 salt was scattered all over London and only three people had seriously high exposures, putting them all into hospitals with hair loss. It tells me all three were at the “incident”, which tells me it was not an assassination but an accident in handling nuclear contraband.

Again one has to wonder, if this was smuggling effort which experienced a deadly accident , where is the rest of the Po-210? The deadliness of the aerosal incident in the Russian case is a clear indication of the potency of this material as a WMD. If all it takes is blowing some steam made with Po-210 salt soluition into crowds to kill large numbers of people off in a matter of weeks then we have a serious problem at hand. I think authorities owe us some answers on this. The only thing working in our favor is the short half life of Po-210 – 138 days. That means the material has lost over half its potency since it entered London in Oct of last year, but it will still be some time before it becomes inert and useless. But I for one want more answers.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “The Biology Of Polonium Poisoning”

  1. Carol_Herman says:

    Madame Curie had polonium injestion over a long period of time. She didn’t throw up. She was able to keep food down. And, she was absolutely fascinated by X-Rays, until it became apparent, something she loved also killed her.

    I don’t trust any of the information that comes out on Litvenenko. He certainly has some really lousy friends; all russians. All made mistrustful from a very young age, onward. That’s the russian system. Where reporting your parents is drummed into kids. Where everybody lives within these shadows.

    You’re also learning that europe is dying. That it has not invested in military security. Nor does it keep its own citizens, country by country, particularly safe.

    Into this mix, with the freedom of Glasnot, came an ability for millions of russians to leave mother russia. And, pockets landed everywhere. And, in ALL places there are lessons to learn from absorbing THUGS.

    England has made it hard on the thugs to join the aristocrats. Even though they have the money to buy what they want. “Access to the Queen,” is forbidden. So you have these dogs, and the muslems, making contacts. Especially where money is the honey.

    Anyway, Litvenenko became a corpse. And, you were told this was done by putin. With polonium; as if you were given a box of clue. And, your cards don’t say Mr. Mustard. In the kitchen. With a butcher’s knife.

    It doesn’t matter.

    All you know is that the russians are polluting the system, no matter where you look. (And, by the way, the Chechnyans are now KAPUT. Putin doesn’t advertise. It took more than a decade to get the malfuctioning russian army into a position where Chechnya has been destroyed. But it has been done. And, this “break-away republic,” has instead taken on the color and odor of Litvenenko. Sans box.

    Probably, the English know enough, now, about their internal threats, that Litvenenko is just one piece of the puzzle. A man running around in broad daylight, without much of a job to speak of. Yet he eats well. We’re told there’s one super-duper-rich-oligarth. And, Litvenenko was swimming in his circle. When the noose was pulled.

    Okay, for sure. You can eliminate ropes.

    A recent headline, here in Pasadena, spoke of a russian woman and her daughter who went to russia “for a wedding.” And, both were poisoned. And, are now back in the states. (The poison? It didn’t kill them. And, supposedly the russian community is aware of this incident. Not just out here. In Pasadena.) Was the mom a scientist? Why not? But I don’t know. I didn’t read the newspaper. It was behind glass, and for sale. And, all I saw was the front page news.

    But if you need “evidence” that the russians are a MOB, who use hit squads, you’re now discovering America.

    Can there ever be a big enough epidemic that would kill hundreds of thousands in England? Why not? The world’s known big epidemics. Probably the last one that got your attention was AIDS. But life goes on.

    What made (or helped) Litvinenko swallow poison? We’ll never know. Because it wasn’t sprayed on the raw fish.

    Was there business being transacted in those high class hotel rooms? Probably. Because what other job did Litvinenko have? You know. How was he earning his money?

    And, who’d want to kill him? Where does the message get delivered? I don’t buy messages that come from marketeers. Or PR outfits. And, sadly enough Beretofsky (sp?), still has lots of moolah. And, is aware of something he doesn’t share. I’m sure he’s increased his own security dramatically.

    And, Litvinenko? A pigeon carrying countraband that paid a price. To someone he decided was too secret a piece of information to let out. (We also don’t know what went on in the hospital?) He was cagey. He got sicker. So did the staff exposed to him.

    But just to repeat: Madame Courie did not know she was slowly being poisoned. X-Rays? Brand new. Before that nobody could see inside the body to look at broken bones. Medicine has progessed a bit since her discoveries. Which makes science very different from what the MOB does. Fer shur.

  2. crosspatch says:

    So now I wonder … any chance Litvinenko used cocaine? It is pretty popular in Europe, more popular than it is here particularly among the upper class. In a recent survey, every single Irish Euro note that was tested showed signs of cocaine contamination.

    That would be an easy way to get the stuff into his lungs.

  3. per says:

    this is truly astonishing analysis. One estimate for the amount of Po-210 in Litvinenko is 10(9) Bq, i.e. that is the 10% of the dose that got into him. Now you are suggesting that only ~1% of that dose gets excreted through skin- and I congratulate you for looking this up- and that would be approximately 10(7) Bq. You can detect 10 Bq of alpha, yet you categorically state that you cannot detect the signal from sweat…

    It is quite clear that when Litvinenko was poisoned, the amounts spilled/ transferred would be vast. But you can only start to make sensible comment when you know the amounts that were detected at various points; and you simply do not know this.

    you remain confused about how Po-210 is made. It is not smelted to make metal; it is made in a nuclear reactor. The very small amounts of Po-210 made are extracted by means of a chemical reaction- which produces salts. The prospect of making Po-210 metal in volume is a signficant undertaking.