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biofreak

polonium in smoke

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do cigarettes (not custom made cigars) contain any amount of polonium??they do contain cadmium, but apart from that is there any polonium?

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Wow. I am going to check, but I'm about 90% sure that Po is an alpha emitter.

Very bad deal, especially in your lungs.

Even if it is found only in extremely minute amounts, I'm sure that after several years of smoking, it has the potential to eff you up.

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yeah, Po emitts alpha particles. it's the same material used to poison that russian guy a while back.

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polonium(po) indeed is radioactive.is polonium present in tobacco itself or is it administered separately in the cigarrettes??? if it is so harmful, then why polonium is not eradicated from tobacco? does polonium intoxicate???

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polonium is in the tobacco. it is about 250,000,000,000 times more toxic than cyanide with a LD50 of 50ng due to both its chemical properties and its radioactive properties.

 

i have no idea why it is not controlled by the industry.

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polonium(po) indeed is radioactive.is polonium present in tobacco itself or is it administered separately in the cigarrettes??? if it is so harmful, then why polonium is not eradicated from tobacco? does polonium intoxicate???

 

Polonium enters the cigarette production process through phosphate fertilizers which are made from calcium rich rock which has been contaminated with radon and radon progeny.

 

This fertilizer is placed on tobacco fields. Wind kicks it up and causes it to blow around. However, unlike most other plants the leaves of tobacco are sticky. The polonium particles deposit and accrue on the leaves, until the plants are harvested. Washing the plants doesn't help. The polonium is stuck all over the leaves, which are in turn processed and sold as cigarettes.

 

I contacted the United States Environmental Protection Agency regarding why this is allowed to happen and they responded that they have not been given regulatory authority over polonium levels in tobacco.

 

I wrote my senator and asked why they did not have this power, suggesting they should, and got some boilerplate back about how he's working to stop smoking. Awesome.

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Send a letter to the Department of Energy suggesting they regulate nuclear materials in tobacco the same way they regulate other nuclear materials.

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Polonium enters the cigarette production process through phosphate fertilizers which are made from calcium rich rock which has been contaminated with radon and radon progeny.

 

This fertilizer is placed on tobacco fields. Wind kicks it up and causes it to blow around. However, unlike most other plants the leaves of tobacco are sticky. The polonium particles deposit and accrue on the leaves, until the plants are harvested. Washing the plants doesn't help. The polonium is stuck all over the leaves, which are in turn processed and sold as cigarettes.

 

I contacted the United States Environmental Protection Agency regarding why this is allowed to happen and they responded that they have not been given regulatory authority over polonium levels in tobacco.

 

I wrote my senator and asked why they did not have this power, suggesting they should, and got some boilerplate back about how he's working to stop smoking. Awesome.

 

This is a most interesting post; I wonder how I escaped hearing of polonium in cigarette smoke? At any rate, radon is present when gas mantles used in camping lighting glow while burning fuel vapor heats them. Mantles are made of silk treated with thorium oxide. A big thing was made of this fact perhaps 25 years ago, then the interest seemed to fade away. imp

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"Send a letter to the Department of Energy suggesting they regulate nuclear materials in tobacco the same way they regulate other nuclear materials.

"

I understand the guy you want to is called NORM.

 

Probably the main reason this is being ignored by the authorities is that it's not very important. If they took all the Po out of tobacco there would still be plenty of other carcinogens left so what's the point? The quantity of Po in cigarettes is estimated as about 10 Bq each. So Mr Litvinyenco (sp?) could have got his fatal dose by smoking about a billion cigarettes. I think the ounce and a half of lead he would have picked up might have got him first. Failing that the couple of ounces of cadmium or the quarter ounce of arsenic might have taken him out.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&list_uids=11941445&cmd=Retrieve&indexed=google

 

It's not as if the same fertilisers are not used for other things. Brazil nuts often have raised radium levels but that's not going to stop me eating them

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Probably the main reason this is being ignored by the authorities is that it's not very important. If they took all the Po out of tobacco there would still be plenty of other carcinogens left so what's the point?

 

So your argument is why not leave a radioactive compound in cigarettes because cigarettes contain other carcinogens? You also seem to be assuming that the other carcinogens are also not preventable through changes in the manufacturing/consumption process, and exist in quantities sufficient to cause cancer. Can you substantiate either of these assumptions?

 

Cigarettes are the #1 cause of preventable death, at least in the US. Anti-smoking campaigns and smoking bans are one approach to curbing the problem, but meanwhile America's smokers are still inhaling radioactive smoke.

 

From the Martell paper:

 

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/80/5/1285

 

The high incidence of lung cancer in cigarette smokers is attributed to the cumulative -radiation dose at bifurcations from indoor radon and thoron progeny--218Po, 214Po, 212Po, and 212Bi--plus that from 210Po in 210Pb-enriched smoke particles. It is estimated that a carcinogenic -radiation dose of 80-100 rads (1rad=0.01J/kg=0.01 Gy) is delivered to 10^7 cells ( 10^6 cells at individual bifurcations) of most smokers who die of lung cancer.

 

The quantity of Po in cigarettes is estimated as about 10 Bq each. So Mr Litvinyenco (sp?) could have got his fatal dose by smoking about a billion cigarettes. I think the ounce and a half of lead he would have picked up might have got him first. Failing that the couple of ounces of cadmium or the quarter ounce of arsenic might have taken him out.

 

That would be a strawman which confuses a fatal dose with a carcinogenic dose.

 

It's not as if the same fertilisers are not used for other things.

 

Polonium-210 is also found in some food products. There's a combination of factors which make cigarettes different:

 

- Tobacco leaves, which are processed for direct consumption, are sticky and retain dust which blows on them from the fertilized topsoil

 

- The leaves are smoked rather than eaten. This deposits the polonium compounds along with a sticky tar which binds them directly to lung tissue.

 

- While insoluble polonium compounds can be naturally cleared by the digestive system, it can take months for the lungs to clear insoluble polonium compounds

 

- Cigarettes are addictive and addicts typically consume 20+ per day

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"So your argument is why not leave a radioactive compound in cigarettes because cigarettes contain other carcinogens?"

No

My argument is that the tiny ammount of Po in tobacco is unimportant compared to other toxins there. Removing it would be like trying to remove the lead- sure, you could do it, but it would make a lot more sennse to spend the money on anti smoking campaigns.

 

"That would be a strawman which confuses a fatal dose with a carcinogenic dose."

No it's an illustration of how small the quantity is. Comparing one carcinogen (Po) with 2 others (Cd and As) doesn't look unreasonable to me.

 

There's another really important distinction between food and tobacco. Nobody really needs tobacco; if it all disapeared tomorrow it wouldn't kill anyone. Surely it makes more sense to worry about other things first.

Natural K gives about 30 Bq/Kg. How much more radiation am I exposed to from the K in my food than from the Po in cigarettes?

Well, I'd need to smoke a lot if the figure given here is right.

http://www.npp.hu/mukodes/aktivitas-e.htm

Am I worried about this?

No, not even taking the effectiveness of alphas or the cumulative effect from the Po into account.

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I believe part of bascule's point was that the polonium is "glued" to your lungs by tar, whereas the potassium in your food just passes through.

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My argument is that the tiny ammount of Po in tobacco is unimportant compared to other toxins there.

 

Can you name a toxin present in cigarette smoke that's demonstratably more carcinogenic than polonium-210?

 

According to the Wikipedia article on the health effects of tobacco smoking, polonium-210 is by far the most potent carcinogen.

 

Next is nitrosamine, which can be eliminated to the point of undetectability by drying tobacco with indirect fire curing.

 

Following that is benzopyrene, which can be eliminated by vaporizing cigarettes rather than burning them.

 

The other 16 known carcinogens in cigarettes exist in negligible quantities, arguably insufficient to induce cancers.

 

Removing it would be like trying to remove the lead- sure, you could do it, but it would make a lot more sennse to spend the money on anti smoking campaigns.

 

Why? After some 40 years of anti-smoking campaigns the population of smokers is still on the rise. Is it better to just let them succumb to cancer?

 

People are dying because they're willingly consuming a product that contains poison. Two options here: Convince them to stop, or get rid of the poisons. We've tried the first option with increasing intensity for the past 40 years with negligible success. Why not try the second?

 

No it's an illustration of how small the quantity is. Comparing one carcinogen (Po) with 2 others (Cd and As) doesn't look unreasonable to me.

 

I'll again quote the Martell paper, with the relevant points you're ignoring bolded:

 

The high incidence of lung cancer in cigarette smokers is attributed to the cumulative radiation dose at bifurcations from indoor radon and thoron progeny--218Po, 214Po, 212Po, and 212Bi--plus that from 210Po in 210Pb-enriched smoke particles. It is estimated that a carcinogenic radiation dose of 80-100 rads[/b'] (1rad=0.01J/kg=0.01 Gy) is delivered to 10^7 cells ( 10^6 cells at individual bifurcations) of most smokers who die of lung cancer.

 

And again, there's a single, common, known source for the radioisotopes in tobacco. They all come from phosphate fertilizers which are contaminated with compounds from the radon decay sequence. In 1980 Martell proposed a solution: switch to fertilizers which are free of radioactive compounds. The tobacco industry said this was a "valid but expensive point":

 

http://tobaccodocuments.org/youth/CgHmPMI19800402.Me.html

 

There's another really important distinction between food and tobacco. Nobody really needs tobacco; if it all disapeared tomorrow it wouldn't kill anyone. Surely it makes more sense to worry about other things first.

 

As the Cap'n said... radioactive heavy metals and their compounds are readily absorbed by your digestive tract... while there is minimal exposure, it passes through your digestive tract and is expelled by natural processes.

 

Your lungs have natural processes for clearing foreign objects as well, but these processes cannot clear insoluble, radioactive polonium compounds. Instead the polonium sticks to your sensitive internal lung tissue and bombards it with extremely hazardous alpha radiation.

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Next is nitrosamine, which can be eliminated to the point of undetectability by drying tobacco with indirect fire curing.

 

 

Note here that cured meat products, like ham, lunchmeat products, hot dogs, etc., and a raft of other EDIBLES, are preserved by addition of sodium nitrite, which is metabolized to nitrosamine in the human body, as I understand it. imp

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Note here that cured meat products, like ham, lunchmeat products, hot dogs, etc., and a raft of other EDIBLES, are preserved by addition of sodium nitrite, which is metabolized to nitrosamine in the human body, as I understand it. imp

 

Indeed, and the process of pan frying, particularly of bacon, will also produce nitrosamine.

 

All the more reason to avoid meats which contain nitrosamine, as well as pan frying. That's in addition to the cholesterol, fats, and moral issues associated with these meats.

 

However, keep in mind that nitrosamine as a carcinogen comes nowhere close to an insoluble alpha emitter that gets glued to your internal tissue by sticky chemicals.

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"I believe part of bascule's point was that the polonium is "glued" to your lungs by tar, whereas the potassium in your food just passes through."

It's true that the K passes through, but since I keep replacing it by eating this doesn't matter much. I'm still roughly 8000 times more radioactive than the Po in a cigarette.

There's Po in food too; less than in cigarettes but most people eat more food than they consume tobacco.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11225703&dopt=Abstract

 

I have a good reason for ignoring the assertion that Po in smoke is responsible for the lung cancers in smokers.

Typical indoor air has levels of radon about 50Bq per cubic metre. (the action limit is about 3 times higher)

I breathe about 20 L/min so I get through a cubic metre in about 50 min.

That's roughly 1 Bq per minute of radon that I breathe. The Rn is, of course, accompanied by the decay products which are typically stuck to dust particles. A lot of this is cleared out by the various mechanisms but since I keep renewing it that's not as much help as it looks. So I get exposed to the effects of roughly 1 Bq of each of the 2 isotopes of Po in the decay chain as well as the other things (2 Bi and 2Pb isotopres).

In order to double my inhaled ,Po- derived, radiation exposure I would need to smoke a cigarette or 2 every minute (assuming all the Po in the cigarette ends up in my lungs which is questionable).

Nobody smokes that much, yet smokers have incidences of cancer far more than twice the incidence of cancer found in non smokers.

The issue here is not "we ignore it because they are smokers who should know better"; it's "we ignore it because it's not significant compared to background exposure".

Smoking certainly adds to your Po intake, but not much.

A 20 a day smoker takes in an additional 20Bq of Po

A non smoker takes in about 1500Bq by breathing.

The difference between 1520 and 1500 is not a plausible cause of the raised cancer rates in smokers.

 

 

The tobacco industry is guilty of some pretty poor behaviour but this isn't a big deal.

 

BTW, here's the bit from that paper that you seem to be ignoring

"The Martelll "Hot Particle Theory" has been addressed in the past and has apparently lost popularity in the scientific community ".

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It's true that the K passes through, but since I keep replacing it by eating this doesn't matter much.

 

Can you find a paper to back that up? You're comparing something which is cleared by natural processes and passes through the alimentary canal to something that lingers and accumulates inside of the lungs.

 

I'm still roughly 8000 times more radioactive than the Po in a cigarette.

There's Po in food too; less than in cigarettes but most people eat more food than they consume tobacco.

 

Again, the consumption is entirely different. Your average smoker is coating their lungs with cigarette smoke at least 20 times a day. Rather than being naturally cleared, insoluble polonium compounds accumulate and increase in concentration. Lung tissue is also far more sensitive and less protected than the tissues of the digestive system.

 

I have a good reason for ignoring the assertion that Po in smoke is responsible for the lung cancers in smokers.

Typical indoor air has levels of radon about 50Bq per cubic metre. (the action limit is about 3 times higher)

I breathe about 20 L/min so I get through a cubic metre in about 50 min.

That's roughly 1 Bq per minute of radon that I breathe. The Rn is, of course, accompanied by the decay products which are typically stuck to dust particles. A lot of this is cleared out by the various mechanisms but since I keep renewing it that's not as much help as it looks. So I get exposed to the effects of roughly 1 Bq of each of the 2 isotopes of Po in the decay chain as well as the other things (2 Bi and 2Pb isotopres).

In order to double my inhaled ,Po- derived, radiation exposure I would need to smoke a cigarette or 2 every minute (assuming all the Po in the cigarette ends up in my lungs which is questionable).

Nobody smokes that much, yet smokers have incidences of cancer far more than twice the incidence of cancer found in non smokers.

 

Since I don't want to delve into your off the cuff calculations, I'll just link a paper which disproves your assertion that environmental exposure to polonium 210 is more than in cigarettes:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10670918&dopt=Abstract

 

The results indicated that a significant fraction (about 30%) of blood 210Po is related to smoking.

 

Clearly smokers are being exposed to more 210Po than non-smokers.

 

The issue here is not "we ignore it because they are smokers who should know better"; it's "we ignore it because it's not significant compared to background exposure".

Smoking certainly adds to your Po intake, but not much.

A 20 a day smoker takes in an additional 20Bq of Po

A non smoker takes in about 1500Bq by breathing.

The difference between 1520 and 1500 is not a plausible cause of the raised cancer rates in smokers.

 

I'd really help if you could find papers to support your position, rather than trying to do your own calculations.

 

If blood polonium has been experimentally demonstrated to be 30% higher in smokers than non-smokers, then clearly something is wrong with your calculations.

 

BTW, here's the bit from that paper that you seem to be ignoring

"The Martelll "Hot Particle Theory" has been addressed in the past and has apparently lost popularity in the scientific community ".

 

You omitted the rest of the sentence:

 

The Martelll "Hot Particle Theory" has been addressed in the past and has apparently lost popularity in the scientific community (lack of recent publicity in this field)

 

Furthermore the Martell paper I cite is more recent than that document.

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Here's the abstract of that paper.

Institute of Atomic Energy Research, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. eshabana@kacst.edu.sa

 

A preliminary study of 210Po concentrations in the blood of some smokers and nonsmokers is presented in order to evaluate the contribution of smoking to total blood 210Po in Saudi population. Blood samples were collected from 30 volunteers and analyzed by high resolution alpha-spectrometry using a radiochemical technique. The technique is based on the separation of polonium from other components of the sample by wet ashing with an HNO3/H2O2 oxidizing mixture and spontaneous deposition on a silver disc under the relevant conditions for alpha-particle counting. The results indicated that a significant fraction (about 30%) of blood 210Po is related to smoking.

 

 

OK if 30 % of the Po is related to smoking then 70% isn't.

Thankyou for proving my point that most Po exposure is not related to smoking.

 

You wrote "I'd really help if you could find papers to support your position, rather than trying to do your own calculations."

I'm not sure what you would help but anyway, what's wrong with me doing the calculations? More importantly, can you explain what, if anything, I have done wrong in that calculation? I know I simplified thigs a lot but when I'm thousands of times more radioactive than a cigarette those simplifications don't make a lot of difference.

 

Why do you ask if I can find a paper that shows that I eat food that contains potassium. Why in heaven's name should I bother to prove something so plainly obvious? Don't you understand that there is K in all my tissues, lungs included, so the relative sensitivity of the lungs doesn't matter.

 

Yes I ommited the bit of the sentence that is redundant. If the theory were popular it would still have been generating publicity If it were generating publicity then it could have been said to be popular. So what?

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OK if 30 % of the Po is related to smoking then 70% isn't.

 

If 30% of blood polonium...

 

I'm not sure what you would help but anyway, what's wrong with me doing the calculations?

 

Well, to begin with, your results contradict peer reviewed scientific research. I've cited two papers here... Martell's experimental measurment of radiation dosage and the paper measuring 210Po. You're contradicting them both.

 

More importantly, can you explain what, if anything, I have done wrong in that calculation? I know I simplified thigs a lot but when I'm thousands of times more radioactive than a cigarette those simplifications don't make a lot of difference.

 

You're demonstration of ambient radiation being "thousands of times" worse than cigarettes is based on a pyramid of assumptions, everything from how much air you breathe to the specific radiation dosage and method of administration. If you're trying to compare radiation dosage, shouldn't your results be in rads? And furthermore, the dosage is going to vary based on a multitude of factors which can't simply be calculated but instead need to be experimentally measured.

 

The real problem is there are scientists writing peer reviewed papers on these issues all the time. They're confirming their findings experimentally. You're doing some off-the-cuff calculations which contradict experimental, peer reviewed research.

 

Why do you ask if I can find a paper that shows that I eat food that contains potassium. Why in heaven's name should I bother to prove something so plainly obvious? Don't you understand that there is K in all my tissues, lungs included, so the relative sensitivity of the lungs doesn't matter.

 

Strawman? You're contradicting two papers I linked. You could at least do me the courtesy of finding at least one paper which confirms your position, specifically in regard to radiation dosage.

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"Originally Posted by John Cuthber

OK if 30 % of the Po is related to smoking then 70% isn't.

If 30% of blood polonium..."

 

Hey, you cited that paper- if it doesn't talk about what you though it did don't blame me.

The only analytical evidence we seem to have here says that more of the Po is from other sources; not smoking.

 

"Well, to begin with, your results contradict peer reviewed scientific research. I've cited two papers here... Martell's experimental measurment of radiation dosage and the paper measuring 210Po. You're contradicting them both."

For the record you also cited a paper (the 2nd one), then tried to discredit it because it measures polonium in the wrong tissue.

In doing so (ie showing the Po moves from the lungs to the bloodstream) the paper also disproves your hypothesis that Po lodges firmly in the lungs; at least some of it gets into the blood.

Wait a minute, that wasn't strictly your hypothesis was it; it was part of the other peer reviewed paper you cited.

 

OK you cite 2 papers and they don't agree; Po either is; or is not; localised in the lungs depending on which one you pick.

 

There's nothing wrong with contradicting any paper by pointing out that it doesn't seem to make sense. Why worry about the radiation from a cigarette when I'm 4 orders of magnitude more active than it is?

Contradicting papers is perfectly reasonable particularly when faced with 2 that don't agree.

 

"You're demonstration of ambient radiation being "thousands of times" worse than cigarettes is based on a pyramid of assumptions, everything from how much air you breathe to the specific radiation dosage and method of administration. If you're trying to compare radiation dosage, shouldn't your results be in rads? And furthermore, the dosage is going to vary based on a multitude of factors which can't simply be calculated but instead need to be experimentally measured."

Everything in science is based on assumptions. I explicitly listed most of them like how much I breathe and so on. If you can find evidence to refute those assumptions then fair enough, I will look at that evidence. Otherwise I'm afraid that, since you are the one puting forward a hypothesis that is, to say the least, "has been addressed in the past and has apparently lost popularity in the scientific community" the burden of proof is on you.

 

"The real problem is there are scientists writing peer reviewed papers on these issues all the time. They're confirming their findings experimentally. You're doing some off-the-cuff calculations which contradict experimental, peer reviewed research."

Interesting isn't it? There's plenty of evidence out ther about Po levels and background radiation. I really am 5 or 10 thousand times more radioactive than a cigarette, yet they seem to be blaming the Po for cancer.

Here's an amusing thought. Papers tend to regard something as "proved" if the statistics show an effect stronger than the 95% level of uncertainty. That means there's a one in 20 risk of getting that good a result as a fluke. Plenty of journals contain roughly 20 papers in each issue. That means that they publish roughly 12 wrong papers in each year (assuming they are monthly and the odds ratios are not much better than 95%).

OK, why have this odd faith in peer reviewed papers?

 

"Originally Posted by John Cuthber

It's true that the K passes through, but since I keep replacing it by eating this doesn't matter much.

Can you find a paper to back that up? You're comparing something which is cleared by natural processes and passes through the alimentary canal to something that lingers and accumulates inside of the lungs...."

"Why do you ask if I can find a paper that shows that I eat food that contains potassium. Why in heaven's name should I bother to prove something so plainly obvious? Don't you understand that there is K in all my tissues, lungs included, so the relative sensitivity of the lungs doesn't matter.

Strawman? You're contradicting two papers I linked. You could at least do me the courtesy of finding at least one paper which confirms your position, specifically in regard to radiation dosage."

 

 

No it's not a strawman. A strawman would be where I distort something you say into something daft and attack that rather than what you actually said (and don't forget those two papers contradict eachother)

What you realy did was ask for a paper to prove that potassium is a natural constituent of the body maintained at reasonably constant levels. That's already daft; I didn't need to distort it.

 

 

There really is potassium in me or I'd be dead.

It really is maintained at fairly constant levels (about 0.4% w/w (a figure that you can look up if you want, but trust me I don't need to lie and I'd have more sense than to do so in front of a bunch of scientists who know how to use google (there's more than one type of peer review))).

The potassium is not "cleared by natural processes" at all. It is maintained at a fairly constant level.

It isn't just in transit through the gut; it's absorbed, distributed throughout the body and excreted mainly by the kidneys (thanks by the way for answering the question I posed "Don't you understand that there is K in all my tissues")

 

If you want to look up stawmen you might have a look at the other common logical falacies. They include "argument by authority". An example of that is to say that something must be right because it's been peer reviewed.

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I can state with certainty, that Tobacco does indeed indeed contain far more Alpha emitters well above background radiation!

 

I have a Very sensitive Alpha only contamination detector as used in the nuclear industry, it will pick up things that my GM counter will not, I tested half a tone of Super Phos fertiliser and found nothing above background (and it in fact blocked some and dropped the count a little).

 

I placed a pack of Old Holborn Yellow (50g) hand rolling tobacco on the scanner and the alarm went off (I got it set to 15 counts in 10 secs).

background reads about 5-8 counts in 10 secs.

 

so there is No doubt that this brand does indeed emit much more than "normal" items.

 

now I refuse to speculate that it`s Po210, but it is Certainly Alpha as this sensor is almost totally "deaf" to Beta and Gamma".

 

I did the same with purified CaHPO4 extracted from several kilos of "Super Phos" fertiliser and that was MUCH higher again, and I even got reading through the glass jar.

 

take whatever meaning you like from this data, but these are my findings as of about 1 hour ago.

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I did the same with purified CaHPO4 extracted from several kilos of "Super Phos" fertiliser and that was MUCH higher again, and I even got reading through the glass jar.

 

 

wonder if this has anything to do with what this guy said about mice eating grain grown with superphos he was more concerned with mineral balance but this could also explain it

 

http://www.zealandpublishing.co.nz/Cancer%20book.html

 

"One day in 1932, Percy helped a neighbouring farmer kill about 100 mice. These mice had been eating stored wheat, grown on soil heavily fertilised with super-phosphate. To Percy's horror he saw ugly cancer growths on all parts of the bodies of the dead mice."

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If you want to look up stawmen you might have a look at the other common logical falacies. They include "argument by authority". An example of that is to say that something must be right because it's been peer reviewed.

 

I don't think appeal to authority necessarily applies to scientific research which has undergone methodological peer review. For starters, there is no authority: the authority comes from the ability of the information itself to pass the scrutiny of several experts who have been offered the chance to give criticism.

 

It's different than, say, the opinion of an individual or a group, in that there is no sort of check on what an individual or group can say at their own behest. Peer reviewed research can be held to a higher standard, because it has specifically undergone the criticism of experts in the field.

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