A lot has been made of the recent death of Alexander Litvinenko due to Polonium-210 poisoning. I had never heard of Polonium-210 before this episode - chemistry was never my strong point - but apparently one milligram of Polonium-210 emits as many alpha particles as 5 grams of radium. Weight for weight, it is 10 to the power of 9 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. In fact, one gram of Polonium-210 is enough to poison 100 million people, of which 50 million people would die.
Was reading today Kyklops' struggles at stopping smoking. I rather stupidly took up smoking again recently. And today, more than ever, I wish I hadn't. I was doing a little bit of research... And you can imagine my joy when I discovered that cigarette smoke contains Polonium-210. According to U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (on national television, 1990) radioactivity, not tar, accounts for at least 90% of all smoking related lung cancer. And guess what? The cigarette manufacturers have known about this since the 60's.
And when you dig deeper into what are actually breathing into your lungs, it absolutely fills you with horror. There are 43 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke. 43! There are over 4,000 different chemicals. Aside from Polonium-210, there is also lead-210, which is also radioactive. And there are also the old favourites hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and of course, how could we forget formaldehyde?
And I was horrified to find out that animals are STILL being submitted to the most horrendous tests by the cigarette companies. Examples include:
* Cutting holes in beagles' throats through which the dogs are forced to breathe concentrated cigarette smoke for a year.
* Inserting electrodes into dogs' penises to measure the effect of cigarette smoke on sexual performance.
* Strapping masks to the faces of rats and monkeys and permanently restraining them to force them to breathe cigarette smoke constantly.
* Forcing dogs to be on mechanical ventilators and chronically exposed to cigarette smoke.
* Restraining Rhesus monkeys in chairs with head devices and exposing them to nicotine and caffeine to determine how caffeine and nicotine affect breathing.
Having now been vegetarian for about five months, I am horrified that this is still going on. Thankfully it's been illegal in Britain since 1997, but in the States it is still widespread, paid for by both the taxpayer AND the cigarette companies, even though the long-term effects are pretty much well-known.
All things being equal, I think that cigarette manufacturers are about as close as we will ever get to Satanic representation on earth. I mean, I bet even Hell wouldn't have been able to come up with something as evil as cigarettes. Cigarettes not that big in size, really... How the hell do they manage to fit all that stuff in them? It must be really packed in to fit so much that is bad for you in one little stick.
It reminds me of the Terry Pratchett book 'Omen'. For those that haven't read it, there's an angel and a demon on earth, maintaining balance. And they both let each other have the odd victory every now and then. The demon, Crawley, receives a commendation from Satan for the Spanish Inquisition... And it was the first time he'd even heard of it. Just goes to show that we are often better at creating suffering for ourselves and our surroundings than anything old Beelzebubbles has downstairs.