Written by: Yasmine Al-Sawy:
Today marks the nineteenth anniversary of the death of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who Swiss experts confirmed was exposed to polonium poisoning after analyzing his remains, while it has not yet been determined whether that was the main cause of his death or not.
In the following lines, Al-Consulto reviews everything you need to know about the polonium poisoning that Yasser Arafat was exposed to, as published by the “Medical News Today” website.
What is polonium?
Polonium is a radioactive chemical element, that is, a very dangerous substance, but it has a relatively short half-life, is available in small quantities in the environment surrounding us, and can enter the body through food, especially seafood.
It must be known that polonium is present in very small quantities in the environment, and therefore does not harm the body. However, the bodies of cigarette smokers contain a larger amount of polonium, because smoking leads to the accumulation of this chemical element in the lungs.
If a large amount of polonium enters the body, it may cause poisoning that can end a person’s life within several days or weeks.
How to get polonium poisoning
You can never be exposed to polonium poisoning by eating ordinary foods that contain a very small percentage of this radioactive chemical element or even constantly smoking cigarettes, and therefore it is a weapon used to kill.
In order to poison someone with polonium, it must be introduced into the body by inhaling it, swallowing a large amount, or through skin abrasions or wounds.
The effect of polonium poisoning on the body and its danger
Polonium is a known carcinogen, so inhaling it causes lung cancer. If swallowed, it concentrates in red blood cells, before spreading to the liver, kidneys, bone marrow, digestive system, testicles or ovaries.
When polonium spreads throughout the body, it leaves a trail of reactive radicals, as it takes electrons from any molecule in its path.
DNA damage from alpha particle radiation can lead to cell death, and to a lesser extent, DNA damage may cause genetic changes that affect the cells’ ability to reproduce.
Different organs and tissues vary in their sensitivity to alpha radiation damage, with bone marrow tissue being particularly vulnerable, as it forms blood cells, as well as the lining of the intestines.
Symptoms of polonium poisoning
Some laboratories can perform urine analyzes to detect polonium poisoning, and some symptoms usually appear, such as:
-Vomiting and nausea.
– Hair loss.
– Low white blood cell count.
– Bone marrow damage as the dose increases.
After these severe symptoms appear, the patient may appear to have recovered, but bone marrow damage will continue, resulting in low numbers of white blood cells and platelets. The person usually dies within a few weeks or months, and sometimes recovers.
Depending on the dose, various organs of the body will be affected, including the bone marrow, digestive system, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
If the central nervous system is affected, this is irreversible, leading to death, and at high doses, it can lead to confusion, convulsions, and coma within minutes of polonium poisoning.
The post first appeared on www.elconsolto.com