Letter by Gregory Sams. (shortened)
from the London Daily Mail 8 December 06
Polonium-210 is described as a rare isotope. Sadly, it isn't rare.
In 1990 American Surgeon General C. Everett Koop decared that radioactivity, not tar, accounts for 90% of smoking-related lung cancers.
Cigarettes are lightly radioactive. Most of the radiation comes from the rock-mineral FERTILISER (APATITE) that subsidised American farmers use. This contains radon, which decays to deposit polonium-210 in the fine hairs of tobacco leaves. This collects in smokers' lungs & beams out alpha radiation for years.
Increasing use of radon-rich fertilisers accompanied an 18-fold increase in the per capita incidence of lung cancer between 1930 & 1980 in the US. In the same period smoking fell by 20%, but tobacco's polonium-210 content tripled.
Of 33,000 UK deaths a year from lung cancer, 90% equates to 30,000 caused by radiation. 575 Britons die every week from gradually ingesting the same substance that poisoned Litvinenko. The Govt. is aware of this but doesn't publicise it.