Whole Leaf Tobacco

Radioactivity in Tobacco (from fertilizers)

smallwanderings

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"The fertilizers that tobacco farmers use to increase the size of their tobacco crops contain the naturally-occurring radionuclide radium and its decay products. As the plant grows, the radon from fertilizer, along with naturally-occurring radon in surrounding soil and rocks, transfer into and on the plant and are later included in tobacco products made from these plants. Radon’s decay product, polonium-210, carries the most risk."
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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Polonium was first discovered by Marie Curie who named it for her home country of Poland. Polonium is dangerously radioactive, and the most stable isotope of same has a half-life of about 12 years. There is also a thing called a "Polonium Pit" that is used in certain nuclear bombs to initiate the shower of neutrons that causes the chain reaction of a nuclear explosion. This, as a sidebar comment, is the reason that nuclear bombs have a "shelf life" and must be periodically disassembled and re-built.

Radon is a very short lived element who's half-life is usually measured in seconds or minutes, depending on the isotope.

All of these are bi-products as Uranium or the artificial element Plutonium series, decay down to the stable Lead 206 isotope.

This information posted above, from the EPA (just my opinion of course) is meant to scare people into not smoking. This is not the first time I have seen this information. Why does the EPA only talk about tobacco and radioactive decay products. Why not radiation in your bread? Or other food products. All are produced with chemical fertilizers.

Make up your own opinion.

Wes H

P.S. Marie Curie died at the age of 66 from radiation poisoning because she used to carry test tubes filled with radioactive materials around in her pocket.
 

Oldfella

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@OldDinosaurWesH Says, Why does the EPA only talk about tobacco and radioactive decay products. Why not radiation in your bread? Or other food products. All are produced with chemical fertilizers.
I agree, I have been smoking for over 60yrs. Maybe it's not old age affecting my health, perhaps it's "RADIATION POISONING" :sick::sick:
Oldfella
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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I know a great deal about minerals and mineral genesis. Uranium, and thereby Uranium's daughter products are very rare substances. Rarer than gold. I could go on at great length on this subject and probably bore most of you to death. Suffice it to say, I think the EPA is being highly disingenuous, and stretches any credibility that they might have to the breaking point.

Wes H
 

ChinaVoodoo

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I know a great deal about minerals and mineral genesis. Uranium, and thereby Uranium's daughter products are very rare substances. Rarer than gold. I could go on at great length on this subject and probably bore most of you to death. Suffice it to say, I think the EPA is being highly disingenuous, and stretches any credibility that they might have to the breaking point.

Wes H
I totally agree. I think it's propaganda that manipulates people's fear of radiation and lack of education on it. I once read a study that showed that the majority of physicians have a very poor understanding of the amounts of radiation they are prescribing when ordering diagnostics. It's really easy to make an impact with the word radiation.

I'm admittedly biased in that I don't like to read things that imply tobacco is bad; however, I studied materials engineering and have been an industrial radiographer for 24 years. I work with cobalt—60, iridium-192, selenium-75, and x-ray. Edit : and deleted uranium which is used as shielding because it's significantly more dense than lead, and even a bit more dense than tungsten. The most important aspect of my job is to know how much radiation we get and how much people who might be outside our radiation barrier are getting.

My greatest pet peeve is movies and television that inaccurately represent the numbers, language, and effects of radiation. Bosch season 5(?) was horrible and the writers should be ashamed. As of now, I've only ever seen one show that did it well, and that's the recent Chernobyl series.

Edit : @smallwanderings, certainly don't feel bad for bringing this up. It's an interesting conversation.
 

deluxestogie

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@smallwanderings, certainly don't feel bad for bringing this up. It's an interesting conversation.
Agree. Agree.

In 1991, while hiking the inner Grand Canyon (on the Tonto Plateau) between Hermit Canyon and the Bright Angel Trail, the final night's campsite before reaching Indian Garden was at the creek crossing within Horn Creek Canyon. Whew! Water is hard to come by in many stretches of the Tonto Trail. About 10 years later, the National Park Service added a warning that backpackers should never drink water from Horn Creek. It's tainted by leaching from an abandoned uranium mine on the South Rim.

Worried about that ex post facto revelation, I laboriously sought out any available radiation readings taken from Horn Creek water. It turns out, it's about as dangerous as installing a granite countertop in your kitchen.

With tobacco, I would be more attentive to inhaling smoke--any smoke--into my alveoli. We each choose our risks, usually with incomplete knowledge.

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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Interesting comments from chinavoodoo and deluxestogie.

Uranium forms its' own distinct groups of minerals due to the large size of the uranium atom. The base molecule is always a UO2 and the UO2's are almost always associated with a hydrous calcium phosphate molecule. (Yellowcake) It is the phosphorous in the fertilizer that may contain a small uranium residue. I have a couple of Uranium bearing mineral specimens in my collection. One of the ways that you can prospect for Uranium ore is by using a black light at nighttime. The yellowcake series of minerals positively glow under the black light. There was a Uranium mine in Spokane County Washington called the Midnight Mine because it was discovered using this method.

The reason there are abandoned uranium mines all over the west (Horn Creek per deluxestogie's comment) is because the Federal Government set off a huge boom in mining in the 1950's. The cold war was on and the lid was off when it came to prices for uranium ore. The Uravan belt in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah (Centered on Moab Ut.) were places that much amateur mining went on. Anyone with a truck and a backhoe could make a fortune in a short amount of time. I read one account of a pair of entrepreneurs who found a petrified log that had been largely replaced by yellowcake. They dug it up loaded it into their truck and got $50,000 for it at the federal depot. In one day! And remember those were 1950's dollars. A considerably larger sum by todays inflationary standards.

And of course, there weren't any of the environmental restrictions in place that we have today. What was that I said about credibility of Federal agencies in my earlier post?

Depleted Uranium eh? The Army loves it for tank-buster artillery shells. DU is nearly as dense as gold and harder than steel.

Wes H
 
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Cray Squirrel

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"The Uravan belt in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah (Centered on Moab Ut.) were places that much amateur mining went on. Anyone with a truck and a backhoe could make a fortune in a short amount of time. I read one account of a pair of entrepreneurs who found a petrified log that had been largely replaced by yellowcake"
I'm from this area and have collected different types of specimens including uranium. The yellow cake seemed to be concentrated in petrified wood but don't remember the process. There was a huge mill to process the yellow cake in Grand Junction, Colorado and the tailing from the mill were used for many years in their housing construction, driveways etc. Must have spiked the radon gas levels. The government had a huge super fund project going there for years removing the tailing at huge expense. Fossils and other minerals from the Naturita formation I have aren't radioactive nor are any from the Moab area where I have collected minerals. Veterbrate fossils arent known to concentrate uranium but are no longer allowed to be collected. Old pieces are legal to possess.
 

deluxestogie

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I have to admit that I am fairly skeptical of today's niceties of environmental radiation (e.g. in tobacco). As a boy of about 10, living in Atlanta, I clearly recall watching a somewhat boring, stammering, academic discussion--in black and white--on our new (and only) UHF TV station of how strontium-90 from recent atmospheric testing of thermonuclear bombs over the Pacific Ocean was settling onto the landscape of the United States, and entering our food chain. But that was not long after the time when I could stick my feet into holes in a funny-shaped box at any shoe store, and see the bones of my feet via X-ray.

There is no doubt that cumulative radiation dose can be a biological problem. There is also no doubt that external vs internal exposure to various kinds of radiation are quite different. The radiation from alpha and beta particles is pretty much stopped by your skin and clothing--unless you inhale or ingest it. (Alpha and beta particles that are ingested, mostly end up in your sewer. But when you inhale them, angry cells lining the alveoli entomb the particles--forever.) Gamma radiation zaps right on through your skin and clothes. And metal radiation barriers generate their own kind of secondary radiation.

What is the moral of all this? There are certainly risks of serious radiation exposure in certain industries, many medical imaging procedures, and low-ish probability events, such as nuclear weapon use. (Oh, and traveling to Mars.) But for the most part, everyday exposures to common environmental items and consumer goods represent a risk that is orders of magnitude smaller. And don't forget that "sun screen" is specifically a radiation barrier against that giant, thermonuclear ball in the sky.

The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it, would save him.”​
― Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
Bob​
 
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