KGB in action?
LONDON (AFX) - Former spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by radioactive polonium, a source at the London hospital where he was treated told AFP.
Polonium is an extremely toxic and highly radioactive substance.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the substance experts initially thought was the heavy metal thallium was found to be polonium after tests.
Polonium is a highly radioactive and toxic element and is dangerous to handle. Even in milligram or microgram amounts, handling polonium-210 is very dangerous and requires special equipment used with strict procedures. Direct damage occurs from energy absorption into tissues from alpha particles.
The maximum allowable body burden for ingested polonium is only 1100 becquerels (0.03 microcurie), which is equivalent to a particle weighing only 6.8 × 10-12 gram. Weight for weight polonium is approximately 2.5 × 1011 times as toxic as hydrocyanic acid. The maximum permissible concentration for airborne soluble polonium compounds is about 7,500 Bq/m3 (2 × 10-11 µCi/cm3).