TRUTH rants about Polonium-210 in cigarette smoke

If the cigarette companies can take the tar and nicotine out of a cigarette, they can certainly make them less radioactive.

Some of you guys are acting like the scientists in Sleeper.

And we all know science in movies is completely accurate… :rolleyes:

If we’re going to take out the radioactive Polonium, which might even be possible, why stop there? Why not remove any Potassium, too? Or Carbon-14? For that matter, aren’t you concerned about the fallout from the recent Indian and Pakistani test nukes?

By the way, do you wear SPF 45 all the time on all your exposed skin? That’s a much more credible health threat than the level of Polonium they’re talking about. After all, there IS a proven link between number of sunburns and their severity and later malignant melanoma.

Oh, and do you wear a HEPA filtered gasmask on cool days? Temperature inversions acutally allow for radon and radon decay daughters to build up in the atmosphere to the level where they could become a hazard.

Excessive radiation exposure is bad and no one has been able to prove yet whether there is a threshold dose above which damage becomes permanent and cumulative or whether all exposure is cumulative (AFAIK). Having said that, there is no point in trying to run from all exposure, because it ain’t possible. If you’re worried about radiation exposure from cigarette smoke, you’re smoking something else, because, IMNSHO, your understanding of relative hazards is sorely lacking. If you’re a smoker, the Polonium is neglible to the other hazards in smoke. If you’re not a smoker, it’s usually easy enough to avoid exposure.

Besides, if you want to see cigarettes banned, get real, after the tobacco settlement, the 50 States are ALL addicted to tobacco money, they can’t afford to lose the sin tax money.

I think they may have done something similar once. Maybe it wasn’t TRUTH, but something similar.

Is “radioactive” our new Scary Word Of The Day? Good to know.

carrot, thanks, that sounds like the book I was thinking of. I never read it, I just remembered hearing a radio interview with the author one evening when he described that part of the story.

Not to rain on such an impassioned rant…but would you happen to have a link to the above article (or a summary)?

The reason I ask is…I’ve looked and looked and the only NCI (or other research) references to polonium-210 in cig smoke have NOT said anything like “the levels are too low to significantly impact lung cancer.”

example or this or this (pdf)
or here or here…or here

I’m not saying you’re fibbing, I just can’t find a cite for your claim…which would help put the Truth ad into context.

beagledave, looking at one of the sources cited in the list of cites you’d posted shows the level of concern and confusion when anyone tries to talk about internal dose from alpha emitters that have not been absorbed into the body. Becuase the lungs have their own particulate flushing system, mucous, if you read to the fourth letter in this cite you’ll see that the numbers from dose are all over the place. Even those that are most damning towards radioactivity in cigarettes admit that a signifigant (and unquantified) fraction of the dose is going to be from radon decay daughters.

Likewise, with at least three of the sources you’ve cited being rather politicized (a pro-marujuana site, a state run anti-smoking site, and a CNN article based on press releases from anti-smoking activists…) you’re looking at data chosen for the highest numbers found in any studies regardless of date or contrasting research. I’m not accusing you, or them, of making up the numbers, just that the sources shown chose the highest numbers they could find for their own purposes. (Yes, I believe in parallel construction of arguments. :smiley: )

The other thing to consider is that there’s a difference between rads and REM. Both are measures of radiation exposure, or dose. But rads are specifically based on energy transferred to the exposed medium. REM, on the other hand, represent an estimate of the biological damage caused by the radiation exposure. So, right from the start, that is one reason that the dose estimates are varying so widely: different methods for estimating dose and the damage done by that dose are going to give different numbers.

As stated in more than one of the letters I’ve cited, alpha particles have a range of travel measured in fractions of a micrometer. So, if the alpha emitters are embedded on the cell lining of a living cell much of that damage is going to be to the cytoplasm of the cell, disruping RNA and tranfer molecules in great numbers over a short distance. However, if the same alpha emitter is embedded in a layer of mucous, there is reason to assume that some, or even all, of the dose from the alpha particles is going to be absorbed by that non-living substance. According to Cohen, et al. they found on autopsy, a young smoker had less embedded activity in the lungs than anyone else they studied, because the mucous transport mechanism for scrubbing dust from the air we breath had been working the best of any of the subjects.

I’m not up on the latest rad health physics, of course, but - I still don’t see a point to getting excited because one of the toxins in cigarette smoke is an alpha emitter. Cigarette smoke is an irritant I try to avoid anyways - and I’d think that most people who have a choice nowadays realize it is a health risk. One more layer to that risk isn’t what I’d call news.

Oh I’m not trying to argue that tracer is wrong about the risks (or lack thereof) of polonium…I’m just looking for actual cites to back the claim that “the levels of Polonium-210 in tobacco smoke are not believed to be great enough to significantly impact lung cancer”.

When I did some googling, those kinds of cites in my response were the only ones I could find. If tracer (or you) could find links that would back the claim in the OP…that would certainly make the claims of the Truth ad more suspect.

On closer look to your response…WTF?

  • my first cite is a medline abstract
  • Is a “state run anti-smoking site” …the 2nd site…as suspect as the CDC or NIH in terms of being “anti smoking”?
  • the third cite is from the MSU Office of Radiation, Chemical & Biological Safety
  • the 4th cite is from the Center for Integrating Research & Learning at the National High Magnetic Field Lab
  • the 5th cite is from the American Computer Association (a “health alert”)
  • The 6th cite is from a CNN health library with mayo Clinic content (perhaps you missed the “Note: All links within content go to…NOT press releases from anti-smoking activists like you claimed.

Help me out here…which of the above 6 cites is from a “pro marijuana site”?

beagledave, I didn’t mean to sound like I thought you were arguing, I just like to speechify. :smiley:

I don’t have a cite for the exact quote, but the letter I was referring to in my previous cite said “The average dose rate to the basal cells of the bronchial epithelium from alpha activity in these seven persons ranged from 2.0 to 40mrem per year. For comparison, the natural background dose from inhaled radon-daughter alpha activity is about 2000mrem per year.”

Which does lead me to agree with the conclusion that tracer posted. (Even if I think that that particular number is very high for radon decay daughter activity - I think it’s more likely to be on the order of 100-300 mREM, but again estimates of damage are part of the problem, there.)

beagledave, when the first paragraph of the ASCA article says:

it sure seems to me to have at least part of the purpose of the article to support legalization of marajuana.

The second site you offered was part of the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s tobacco use prevention program. I’m not saying that they made up their numbers, remember, just that they chose the most inflammatory numbers available.

I’ll yield on the CNN site, as my own prejudices having kept me from looking at it properly. My apologies.

So, would you say that banning cigarettes, and thereby cutting off the revenue stream from the sin taxes on cigarettes, would be a … sin tax error?

Hah! I kill me!

Sin tax error? That is just wrong :smiley:
Hmmmm. Smoke. Radiation. Just having fun here. Smoke. Radiation. Green skin. Super strength. Light up. Puny Truth. Hulk smash. Yeah, its dumb but sometimes I have a brain fart that strikes me as funny.

People just need to realize the “truth” about smoking cigarettes and give them up. Cigarettes are complete garbage and you should never buy or smoke them nor be near someone smoking a cigarette. Anyone smoking a cigarette is a fool. Who in their right mind would put a paper tube filled with machine processed tobacco between their lips and inhale it into their lungs? Seriously, are these people complete fucking morons?

Everyone knows that cigars are much more enjoyable to smoke and tastier than any goddamn cigarettes. As for second hand smoke, radiation is the least of your worries because the huge smoke death cloud is probably going to asphyxiate you anyway.

Here’s a link to an online Popular Science article about this very thing! (Radithor, not Radiotherm).

I was in the kitchen tending the BBQ Chicken when I heard Polonium-210. I ran into the living room thinking I would see that little martian green guy with the hat . :smack:

Never get your Polonium-210 confused with your Illudium Pu-36.

“If I’m a Russian commander, how do I make people want to get off a submarine? If I’m a Russian commander, how do I make people want to get off a nuclearsubmarine?”

What I want to know is if the exposure level to Polonium is so low, how does it rate compared to standing out in the broad sunlight?

About a year ago I had a t-shirt made with the message:

“Warning. Lecturing me about the dangers of smoking may be hazardous to your health.”

Got some great reactions from various do-gooders. :smiley:

Very disappointed, indeed.

Cigarettes are a unique commodity, for not only were they found to be bad for you in 1964, but they have been becoming increasingly deadly over the years. The tone of each new announcement is that cigarettes are “even deadlier than we told you last time”. It’s as if the cigarettes themselves are actually changing and becoming worse for you every year. By this logic, it won’t be long before packs of cigarettes, imbued with life, jump off the racks at the 7-11 and run around shooting people with tiny guns. I’m not denying the real health hazards that cigarettes represent, but I think there’s a hint of hysteria in the news stories about them.

As for why people smoke, it’s (obviously) not a rational decision. Neither are many other things that people do. As an occasional cigar smoker–and I agree with your comments on the taste of cigars–I occasionally have smoked a cigarette when a cigar was unavailable, or I did not have time to smoke a cigar.