Friday, December 01, 2006

Travails in the old polonium market...

It seems the unfolding story of the Russian spy who was poisoned by polonium has triggered a major flap in the otherwise humdrum world of selling radioactive micro-sources.
All isotopes are made to order at an NRC licensed reactor in Oak Ridge Tennessee. When the isotope is made, it is shipped directly to the customer from the reactor to insure the longest possible half-life.

The exempt quantity amount of Polonium-210, or any of the radioactive isotopes sold is so small that they are essentially invisible to the human eye.
In the case of needle sources, the radioactive material is electroplated on the inside of the eye of a needle.

You would need about 15,000
of our Polonium-210 needle sources
at a total cost of about
$1 million - to have a toxic amount.

In comparison, Americium-241 is a similar toxic Alpha radiation emitter.
Instead of a half life of 138 days like Polonium-210 has, it has a half life of over 450 years. It is far more toxic - and there is 10 times more than the 'exempt quantity' amount in every smoke detector in your home.

[Please note these are fresh radioactive materials - not your stale leftovers.] An interesting note about the owner of this retail website:
United Nuclear is run by Bob Lazar, who some 20 years ago claimed to have worked on alien spaceships on a secret military base in Nevada, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Lazar was unavailable for comment on Tuesday. [More]
I also suspect we're in for a bunch of smoke-detector regulations now.

[via Metafilter]

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