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Radioactivity in Tobacco
Author Unknown

As I understand it, there are two sources of radioactivity in tobacco. Phosphate in fertilizer and radon.

Can anyone cite or post a study that better describes the mechanism by which tobacco concentrates radioactive elements in it's trichomes and cannabis does not, or, a study that verifies the absence of radioactivity in cannabis smoke?

---- Two recent studies (12,13) indicate that alpha radiation from inhaled indoor radon progeny may explain the incidence of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Martell and Sweder (14) report that indoor radon decay products that pass from the room air through burning cigarettes into mainstream smoke are present in large, insoluble smoke particles that are selectively deposited at bifurcations. Thus, the smoker receives alpha radiation at bronchial bifurcations from these three sources: from indoor radon progeny inhaled between cigarettes, from Po214 in mainstream smoke particles, and from Po210 that grows into Pb210 enriched particles that persist at bifurcations.

Edward A Martell, Ph.D.
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Boulder, CO 80307
Finally, the correspondents' suggestion that the "major source of the polonium is phosphate fertilizer'' is not substantiated and is at variance with published data (3,4) indicating that it originates as atmospheric fallout of the decay products of natural radon-222.