Collateral contamination concomitant to the polonium-210 poisoning of Mr Alexander Litvinenko

John Harrison, Tracy Smith, Timothy Fell, Jenny Smith, George Ham, Richard Haylock, Alan Hodgson, George Etherington

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Mr Litvinenko died on 23 November 2006, having been poisoned with polonium-210 on 1 November, with evidence of a previous poisoning attempt during October 2006. Measurements of 210Po in urine samples were made for a large number of people to determine whether they may have been contaminated. In the majority of cases, measured levels were attributable to the presence of 210Po from normal dietary sources. For a small number of cases, elevated levels provided evidence of direct contamination associated with the poisonings. For one individual, while estimated doses were below thresholds for irreversible organ damage, a notably increased risk of cancer can be inferred. The use of the chelating agent, unithiol, to increase 210Po excretion in this case was only moderately effective in reducing doses received.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-851
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Radiological Protection
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • cancer risks
  • chelation therapy
  • dose assessments
  • polonium-210
  • urinary excretion


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