Whaaaat?! Tobacco contains radioactive particles?! How is that even possible?

Well, as amazing as it sounds, it is true. Depending on the soil in which the tobacco is grown, scientists have discovered radioactive particles such as Lead-210 and Polonium-210 to be present on the tobacco leaves.

When you smoke cigarettes, not only do the filters only remove a "modest amount" of radioactive particles, but tar builds up in your lungs. We know this part. But what is now known is that the tar traps the radioactive particles, resulting in a huge radiation dose to your lungs over time. 

From the EPA:  

"Research indicates that lead-210 and polonium-210 are present in tobacco smoke as it passes into the lung. The concentration of lead-210 and polonium-210 in tobacco leaf is relatively low, however, this low concentration can accumulate into very high concentrations in the lungs of smokers.

As it passes into the lungs, the smoke impacts the branches of the lung passages, called bronchioles, where the branches split. Tar from tobacco smoke builds up there, and traps lead-210 and polonium-210 against the sensitive tissues of the bronchioles. Studies show filters on ordinary commercial cigarette remove only a modest amount of radioactivity from the smoke inhaled into the lungs of smokers. Most of what is deposited is lead-210, but polonium-210 (whose half life is about 138 days) quickly grows in as the lead-210 (half life = 22.3 years) decays and becomes the dominant radionuclide. Over 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."

If you have ever questioned the amount of radiation you might receive from airport scanners, dental x-rays, mammograms, a chest x-ray or CT scan remember that, once again, cigarette smoking can kill you. And second-hand smoke can kill your loved ones and friends.

So please stop smoking. 

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