Yesterday it was all about how expensive polonium was while today in the New York Times Professor Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist at the Department of War Studies at King’s College paints a more alarming picture of cheaply sourced polonium used to create what he calls smoky bombs:
Polonium 210 is surprisingly common... It may be difficult to get people to eat polonium; it isn’t hard to force them to breathe it.... Without giving away any information damaging to national security, I see several fairly simple ways to accomplish this: burn the material, blow it up, dissolve it in a lot of water or pulverize it to a size so small that the particles can float in the air and lodge in the lungs.
He goes on to describe just how effective such an attack could be and then suggests we limit the selling of devices that contain small amounts of polonium and have another look at current guidelines:
as of next year, anyone purchasing more than 16 curies of polonium 210 — enough to make up 5,000 lethal doses — must register it with a tracking system run by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
4,999 lethal doses? Would you like a bag with that?