Radiate & Fade Away

The current anti-smoking ad campaign on the Metro not only says second hand smoke causes SIDS, it also notes that cigarette smoke “contains radioactive materials – cancer causing materials that are also found in nuclear bombs.”

Holy shit! That changes my entire world perspective. Not only is the sky falling, but cigarettes are packed full of plutonium.

Being a good and upstanding citizen, my first thought was that we should closely monitor cigarettes. Not necessarily consumption but, instead, shipping. If Iran gets enough cartons of Camels, what’s that mean for the free, peace-loving world? How many cigarettes equal a nuclear bomb? And if they were all packed together and detonated – say, maybe a cargo container’s worth – what would happen? It could very well mean the total destruction of these United States of America – the last bastion against cruelty, evil, torture, and despair. This great shining light may fade – all because of weapons grade radioactive materials in a little cigarette.

Anyway, because I work at a job best suited for a brain-damaged golden retriever, I had time to go ahead and look this up. Turns out that cigarettes contain polonium-210 which, apparently, is a by-product created during their manufacture. But what the hell is polonium-210? Yo, Eddie, this belt’s squeaking. Spray some polonium-210 on it!

I was somewhat dismayed that the internet fell through and failed to fully explain this with one click or less. Brain damaged golden retriever or not, I have shit to do. The anti-smoking ads should have a disclaimer: To prove any of this shit, you’ll have to cut into your online castle building games and compulsive Wikipedia searches for porn star histories.

Further casual and, yes, half-drunk searching turned this up:

“The contamination is sourced in naturally occurring radioactive radon gas which is absorbed and trapped in apatite rock. Apatite, or phosphate rock, is mined for the purpose of formulating the phosphate portion of most chemical fertilizers. Polonium releases ionizing alpha radiation which is 20 times more harmful than either beta or gamma radiation when exposed to internal organs.”

Oh, yeah, baby! I…huh?

I guess I should stop eating fertilizer. I’m up to 20 15 pound bags a day. I think that’s right under the safety margin, though I tip the scales by injecting some of it into my eyeballs.

After three minutes (phew!) of having some minor interest in this stupid claim (though only in the hopes of creating a distraction from the agony of life) I ran across a far better explanation from the EPA:

“The tobacco leaves used in making cigarettes contain radioactive material, particularly Lead-210 and Polonium-210. The radionuclide content of tobacco leaves depends heavily on soil conditions and fertilizer use.

“Soils that contain elevated radium lead to high radon gas emanations rising into the growing tobacco crop. Radon rapidly decays into a series of solid, highly radioactive metals (radon decay products). These metals cling to dust particles which in turn are collected by the sticky tobacco leaves. The sticky compound that seeps from the trichomes is not water soluble, so the particles do not wash off in the rain. There they stay, through curing process, cutting, and manufacture into cigarettes.Lead-210 and Polonium-210 can be absorbed into tobacco leaves directly from the soil. But more importantly, fine, sticky hairs (called trichomes) on both sides of tobacco leaves grab airborne radioactive particles.

“For example, phosphate fertilizers, favored by the tobacco industry, contain radium and its decay products (including Lead-210 and Polonium-210). When phosphate fertilizer is spread on tobacco fields year after year, the concentration of Lead-210 and Polonium-210 in the soil.”

And it looks like lots of people are using phosphate fertilizers. Additionally, Polonium-210 is, indeed, used in bombs. The anti-smoking ad is correct! The Soviets used it in their early nukes. But they abandoned it because the half-life is only 138 days. Now, I don’t know my physics, but isn’t that half-life thing across the board? So cigarettes are okay after 138 days, right?

But, my interest lost (it was lost pretty early on, really), I went back to my compulsive Wikipedia searching, calling up the bio page for Haley Paige who, I was shocked to learn, recently died.

I hate it when these porn stars meet gruesome ends. There’s a certain level of guilt when I watch their scenes. Maybe that’s the “institutionalized necrophilia” that presidential not-so-hopeful Huckabee is going on about?

What’s this post really about? It’s about a friend who gave me a flask this morning that’s filled with Johnny Walker. Sure, it’s only 10am and, sure, I’m here at work… But, Christ, I’m suffering from institutionalized necrophilia here. Are you really going to deny me a drink? Because it’s either drink or ride the Metro home at lunch and watch Haley Paige scenes and think about how hot she is…in her shallow desert grave. Oh, god, that’s it. This calls for an actual bar visit.


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