29 November, 2006

Radioactive Poison for sale on the Internet!!! Oh My!!!

Onsale on the net Legally?!?!

Can you believe that?

Better make a new law now?!?!?!

Everyone run for your bomb shelters!!!! Cats and dogs living together!!! Oh the Humanity!!!!

Where did you get that radioactive poison Timmy? uhh... On the internet?

These articles are irritating me. The authors have no clue and are obviously too stupid to ask the right people the right question.

First of all Polonium is an alpha emitter. That basically means you have to have it in you for it to cause any problem at all.

Second the articles state that the amount available for sale is “very small”. That is the understatement of the century. I could inject 100 of the $69 samples into my jugular and if the blood loss didn’t kill me I wouldn’t have to worry about my 10% increase in the chance of cancer for another 60 years.

Ok that is an exaggeration but if they can do it so can I.

Here are the real facts.

Po-210 ‘s primary emmiter is a 5.3MeV alpha
With a penetration range of about 4 cm of normal sea level air.

It has a biological half life (the amount of time it takes to get it out of the body if ingested) of about 50 days.

The largest organ dose in that time is 100 REM to the Spleen by 1 uCi. This is bad (real bad) but not deadly at this level.

Ouch my SPLEEN!!!

Other organ exposures are an order of magnitude lower.

It would take 10 times that amount to have significant body effects (hence my 100 samples) much more (I don't know how much) to even make death likely.

It takes about 500 to 1000 REM in a relatively short period (less than a month) of time for radiation exposure to be lethal or to cause widespread organ failure. (The real nukes will note that I am fudging a bit here but it is close enough. Feel free to correct me in the comments.)

These sites are selling .1uCi in the $70 dollar range.

The Russian that got poisoned probably had to get more (well more) than 1000 times that amount for it to affect him as completely and quickly as it did.

If you had the $70 grand to blow and didn’t want to spend it on some other way to get rid of someone I suppose in a real stretch it might be possible once. Of course I imagine if you ordered a thousand samples they wouldn’t have them available (probably not all of the places that sell this added together have that much) and my guess is someone would ask why and probably inform the police. It would also be pretty trivial to track someone down who did this with a legal source.

Unless a government did it.

So why was it used?

They obviously had the money.
Even though it cost $70,000 it isn’t very big (half the size of a pin head Update: sorry pin tip. Really really small, dust).
No taste.
Since it is an alpha emitter it won’t be detectible from a distance.
Once it is done it is done. There is no real way to recover.

Don't get me wrong this is pretty nasty stuff and you couldn't pay me enough to actually mainline it like I joked above but people really need to get a clue when they go implying that being able to purchase a tenth of a microcurie for 70 bucks is a problem. After all your typical smoke detector has 9 times that many microcuries of Americium.

They aren't selling grams, milligrams or even nangrams here this is picograms.

Do you want to ban them? Or make everyone register with the government to purchase them?

If you do we should start worrying about the Dirty Banana Bomb.

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