Radioactive Substances in Cigarettes: Quit While You Still Can


Everyone knows that cigarettes are dangerous. But few people are aware of how damaging they really are. If you ask a smoker about the substances contained in cigarettes, most of them will tell you about nicotine. Maybe they don’t know about the rest 598 allowed substances in cigarettes. Or they don’t even care. When the chemicals are inhaled, they put the body into a state of physical stress because they send thousands of toxic metals and carcinogens into the bloodstream with every puff we take.

These toxic chemicals also affect the pulse rate, blood pressure, the health of organs and the immune system. The latest studies have shown the fact that cigarettes are a source of radiation exposure. Cigarette smoke is not a source of radiation exposure, but it contains small amounts of radioactive material that gets into the lungs of smokers as they inhale. The radioactive particles get lodged in lung tissue and over time contribute to a huge radiation dose. Researches show that radioactivity may be one of the key factors in lung cancer among smokers.

How do radioactive substances get into cigarettes?

The tobacco leaves used for preparing cigarettes can contain radioactive material, especially lead-210 and polonium-210. The level of radioactive substances in the content of the tobacco leaves depends on the soil conditions and the fertilizer used. Soils that contain elevated radium lead to high radon gas emanations rising into the growing tobacco crop. Radon rapidly decays into a series of solid, highly radioactive metals (radon decay products). These metals cling to dust particles which in turn are collected by the sticky tobacco leaves. The sticky compound that seeps from the trichomes is not water soluble, so the particles do not wash off in the rain. There they stay, through curing process, cutting, and manufacture into cigarettes. Lead-210 and Polonium-210 can be absorbed into tobacco leaves directly from the soil. But more importantly, fine, sticky hairs (called trichomes) on both sides of tobacco leaves grab airborne radioactive particles.

What happens when you smoke?

Researches indicate the fact that lead-210 and polonium-210 present in the tobacco leaves passes into your lungs and that even though the low concentration of these toxins cannot damage the body immediately, they can accumulate into a very high concentration into the lungs of smokers. When the substances pass into the lungs, the smoke attacks the branches of the lung (bronchioles). The tar contained by the tobacco smoke builds up there and blocks lead-210 and polonium-210 against the sensitive tissues of the bronchioles. Various studies have shown the fact that commercial filters remove a small amount of the radioactive substances that are inhaled into the lungs of smokers. Most of the toxins that are deposited into the lungs are usually polonium-210 (with a life of 138 days), but also lead-210 with a half life of 22.3 years. Accumulated within a large period of time, these substances become radionuclide. In time, the concentration of polonium-210 directly on tissues of the bronchioles grows very high, and intense localized radiation doses can occur at the bronchioles.

So, the next time you light up a cigarette next to your morning coffee or after breakfast think about the chemicals you are benevolently bringing into your body. You’ll get sick of it and throw it away.

Let’s just hope so.

Thanks for the picture!

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