Polonium-210 one of world’s rarest elements kills Russian Spy

If you have been keeping watch on this story, you know it culminated in the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former spy of the Soviet Union. The cause of death is now, Polonium – 210 a extremely rare element, first found by chemists Marie and Pierre Curie 1898 while they were searching for the  cause of radiation decay in Uranium.

This would be so hard to even find in a body, unless one is specifically looking for it. I find it extremely interesting that the Soviets used this element in their space program in the 1970’s, as well as other uses.

If you are interested in this, you can read the CNN article here.

I wonder why people were not more involved in hearing what this man had to say about what was making him ill, since he was one of Russia’s foremost spies up until recently. This man felt that the Russian President was behind this whole episode, and I have to wonder ; if it is true, how can the Russians be allowed to have such far reaching power? For the sake of humanity, who ever is behind this needs to be caught, before they do this again. And why is such a rare and powerful element being allowed to run around the world at will? I read that there is only 100  grams per year is produced.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. P.B.Bechtel
    Dec 06, 2006 @ 19:20:46

    I’m sure it is not that rare. It is used for ionization of air to make very effective static eliminators. In 1975 I worked for a company in Western New York that I’m sure had more than 100 grams of Polonium 210. It has a half-life of 90 days. The static eliminators are used by manufacturers of paper and other rolled out non-conductive materials. Polonium produces Alpha Radiation and some gamma and beta. The place I worked at makes the ionization sourcees, Americium, disks that you have in your house in your smoke detectors. They produce Alpha and gamma and that’s why you shouldn’t be less than 3 feet(1 meter) on a long term basis. My guess is that whomever planned the poisoning reasoned that the Polonium would become undetectable after maybe 270 days, at least not a stong indicator after that much time anyway. BTW, Alpha radiation is stopped by 2 inches or air or whatever is close to it, skin would stop it too. Gamma travels through many materials, including the smoke detectors. The is only half a microcurie of Americium in each smoke detector as they were made back in 1975. PBB


  2. kystorms
    Dec 07, 2006 @ 01:04:58

    Dear Mr Bechtel

    Thank you for leaving your comment, that is what these blogs are for, communication. I took my information straight from CNN reports concerning the poisoning, so thank you for giving me a new avenue to investigate. I find your background extremely interesting, did you actually work as chemist?
    Thank you for giving me your opinions, and I will look into this and post what I can find. I might have to get in touch with my old chem prof and have a go at getting deeper into this subject.
    Thanks again for dropping by, come back anytime.


  3. kystorms
    Dec 09, 2006 @ 17:07:32

    In response to Mr Bechtel’s comments, I went in search of more definitive answers concerning Polonium 210, and was a bit amazed to find that as Mr Bechtel mentioned, it is far less rare than I was lead to believe by reports from CNN. I have contacted a source of Radioactive materials, United Nuclear; and have asked for an interview so that I can clear up any misinformation. I hope to hear from someone soon and as soon as I do, I will most certainly post what I learn here.
    I believe firmly in being as correct as possible, and simply being a personal blog does not take away the responsibility of our citing correct information to the public.


  4. P.B.Bechtel
    Dec 09, 2006 @ 18:01:24

    I was working as the shipping and receiving person, as well as an assembler in the Lab. The company trained me in Health Physics practice before I began to work with radioactive materials and I only handled silver and gold laminated plates that had Americium embedded within them. The Americium and Polonium were handled by chemists and engineers within the Glove-Boxes which used vacuum to keep the powder from becoming airborne. The Lab itself had two interlocking doors and there was a slight vacuum maintained inside the Lab to keep the radioactive materials from blowing out. We wore disposable labcoats and shoe covers inside the Lab.
    Careful control of radioactive substances is essential because they are invisible to the eye and can cause much illness and difficulty of cleaning if persons, knowing or unknowing, bring them out of careful containment. I encourage your discovery efforts! PBB


  5. kystorms
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 00:54:14


    Thanks for the encouragement, I simply want to make sure that I present the most correct facts I can in a manner that will inform people.
    Feel free to come back and comment any time.


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