Polioforever's Blog

X-rays and Radium


 Mrs. Roentgen’s hand       Wilhelm Roentgen          

“Within six months of the discovery of X-rays [Dec.1895], people working with them found that large doses of radiation could cause reddening and blistering of the skin, and that even small repeated doses could produce serious skin lesions… as in the case of Clarence Dally, a young assistant to Edison whom Edison had frequently irradiated while he was perfecting the phosphorescent screen of his fluoroscope machine. In spite of such experiences, ignorance of the adverse..effects..persisted for decades… As a result, many doctors developed cancer…

“Meanwhile, in 1900 the German physicist Max Planck had proposed a law for electromagnetic radiation –the quantum theory– which marked the beginning of an arduous effort by scientists to unravel the mysteries of how radiation interacts with matter. Planck set forth the hypothesis that radiation did not necessarily exist as continuous waves but could also take the form of particles, or quanta, of energy. He postulated that the energy emitted by matter –energy in the form of either light or other electromagnetic radiation– was directly related to its frequency, and that the higher the frequency the greater the energy contained in each quantum… By 1916, Einstein had formulated some fundamental equations describing the exchange of energy that took place when matter and radiation interacted, and during the early 1920s concrete evidence of the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation came with the discovery that collisions between quanta –or photons, as they were soon to be called– of radiant energy and the electrons in particles of matter accounted for a great many of the physically observable effects of radiation.

“Physicists..customarily arranged them according to frequency and wavelength in what has become known as the electromagnetic (or radiant energy) spectrum…. At the high end of the spectrum are gamma rays –extremely high-frequency radiation emitted by radioactive substances such as radium, uranium, and artificially radioactive isotopes, and during atomic and thermonuclear explsions as a consequence of disintegrations of atomic nuclei. The wavelength of gamma rays..is measured in terms of angstroms (one angstrom is one-tenth of a millimicron, which is a billionth of a meter [a nanometer]) and the frequency of these rays is measured in millions of trillions of herz…. [P]hysicists..became aware that X-rays and gamma rays, because of their exceedingly high frequencies, were capable of changing the internal structure of atoms and molecules [transmutation], and that this capacity was directly related to their tremendous photon energy and their enormous penetrating power. As a result, the electromagnetic spectrum was divided into two categories –ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. The first category covered X-rays and gamma rays, which have sufficient energy to dislodge orbital electrons from atoms, creating electrically charged, highly unstable and chemically reactive atoms called ions.. capable of disrupting life processes and of causing genetic mutations [inheritable alterations passed to cells and offspring].” –Paul Brodeur, medical journalist, pp17-19 The Zapping of America, 1977


The discovery of medical x-rays was a culmination of research that preceeded the actual accomplishment in 1895 by many decades, however Wilhelm Roentgen went down in history as the first to perfect a diagnostic quality x-ray by taking the image of his wife’s hand in a 15-minute exposure. Mrs. Roentgen was mortified and never allowed another x-ray to be taken. The scientists and electrical engineers were ecstatic. Within months, x-ray machines were built, used, and applied for all conceivable purposes. Electricians were just as likely to offer ‘treatment’ as physicians. People commonly received long-lasting x-rays from 30min. to an hour. It took several more years for adequate ‘image’ training to take shape. In the meantime, popular notions of healthful radiation exposure only served to heighten demand and lower precautions.

People were encouraged to ‘treat’ colds, aches, rashes, headaches, stomach ache and assorted common ailments with X-ray. Within a decade, radioactive ‘tracers’ were invented to imbibe or inject, for improved imaging. The Curie’s discovery and Nobel Prize in 1903 for radium products launched a new market in radium medicine. According to Dr. Albert Schatz, fluoride expert, radon and radium were added to public drinking water supplies in 1903. There is no possible way to account for the volume of radiation delivered to the public by these means. Most X-ray proceedures were private, unlicensed, unregulated and thought of as harmless [despite warnings and contrary evidence]. Every machine was different and required practice at dosaging –the ‘dose’ was a little less than a physical burn. As late as the 1970s and 80s, healthcare surveys alarmingly indicated that machines were often unreliable at matching actual dose with registered dose. Estimates of antiquated serial x-ray treatments, occurring as late as the 1960s, suppose dosages in the thousands of RADs. By the ’60s, doctors knew that 450 RADS was a lethal dose to half the people exposed to it, causing delayed damage over months and years.

X-rays in laboratory research for medical purposes can be demonstrated by Dr. Hans Zinsser, who became a bacteriologist of high academic achievement and wrote his first paper in 1903 on the effects of radium on bacteria. Years later, in the 1930s while seeking a vaccine against typhus, Zinsser applied x-rays to lab rats in order to destroy their resistence to typhus rickettsiae (carried by fleas).  Zinsser’s biography reveals that, “vitamin deficient diets, benzene poisoning and exposure to x-rays were used to decrease [the rats'] resistence; the last method proved most efficacious.” p338 http://www.nap.edu/html/biomems/hzinsser.pdf. The document also reveals an awareness and subtly-worded concern over what he called “residue antigens” from viral vaccine filtrate. Hans Zinsser died of leukemia in 1940. >>> The Zinsser family chemical business was run by Hans’ brother whose daughters, Margaret and Ellen, married Lewis Douglas and John J. McCloy, respectively.

A RAD means ‘Radiation Absorbed Dose’ and is an obsolete form of measurement. Documents from the 1950s typically measured in ‘Gray’: 100 RADs = 1 Gray. The ‘rem’ and ‘Sievert’ are biological counterpart measurements with complex variability calculations adjusting for tissue and chemical composition.  A rad and a rem are roughly equivalent, as are a Sievert and Gray. Radiation doses and sources are explained here http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/nuctek/safetydose.html

“A dose of ionizing radiation is a quantity of energy delivered per gram of tissue. A rad means 100 ergs of energy per gram of tissue… By contrast, the term “effective” before a dose is a big flag which means, “This is not a dose at all; it is an artificial value which estimates relative detriment.” The effective dose is an attempt to estimate what dose to the entire body would have caused the same amount of detriment (risk) as the actual exam which irradiated only specific parts of the body (McCullough 2000). Thus, “effective” doses are usually considerably lower than real doses — as Table 1 shows. The dose-unit is the centi-Sievert (cSv), which is exactly the same as the rem. These units incorporate a crude adjustment for the different mutagenic potency of x and gamma (low LET) vs. alpha (high LET) radiation. ” http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/XHP/NTP.html; LET stands for Linear Energy Transfer.Linear energy transfer (LET) is a measure of the energy transferred to material as an ionizing particle travels through it. Typically, this measure is used to quantify the effects of ionizing radiation on biological specimens or electronic devices.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_energy_transfer

X-rays are low-LET ionizing  photonic radiation.

Early X-ray researchers:

Wilhelm Hittorf  (1824-1914)- co-inventor of the Crookes’ tube

William Crookes (1832-1919) – http://www.answers.com/topic/william-crookes

Nikola Tesla – the “Master of Lightning” made his own tubes http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_tesla.htm

Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894) – professor at Karlsruhe http://www.answers.com/topic/heinrich-rudolf-hertz

Fernando Sanford (1854-1948) – founding professor of physics at Stanford University was generating X-rays in 1891

Philipp Lenard (1862-1947) – http://www.answers.com/topic/philipp-lenard

Ivan Pulyui – at Univ. of Vienna and (1886) Prague Polytechnic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pulyui

In the 1920s, the era of genetic research began to flower with the use of X-rays. Hermann Muller was a leader in providing experimental proof  –proof that led to Muller’s late professed rejection of eugenics and a reasoned prediction that new emergent diseases would result from harmful irradiation exposure, which bore no scientific resemblance to ‘natural’ mutation or aging.

Hermann J. Muller “formulated..the chief principles of spontaneous gene mutation as now recognized, including those of most mutations being detrimental and recessive, as being point effects of ultramicroscopic physico-chemical accidents..” according to his Nobel Prize biography [see biog. page]. ”In late 1926 he obtained critical evidence of the abundant production of gene mutations and chromosome changes by X-rays (published 1927). This opened the door to numerous researches…”.

…and numerous X-ray applications, like this 1928 citation from the www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ :

“Stern, S..
Report of thirty-one cases of therapeutic abortion induced by
roentgen-ray therapy.  1928.  American Journal
Roentgenology,Radium Therapy 19: 133-140.##”
[see the case of Buck v. Bell in this context  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell]


The skin ‘erythema’ (burn) dose was determined on average at 850 Rads (8.5 Gray). A later publication produced by the military in the atmospheric-testing era determined that a dose of 450 Rads was lethal in one-half of exposures after 30 days (LD50/30= Lethal Dose to 50% after 30 days).

A  post-Chernobyl (1986) training document, produced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for power plant workers, lowers the threshold of death to a dose of 150 rads when effects of Acute Radiation Syndrome manifest.  At 5 to 25 rads, “blood changes” occur [pages 13-15].


X-rays were/are used to ‘knock-out’ the immune system, experimentally discovered in early organ transplantation and the administration of ‘anti-rejection’ drugs.


X-radiation was shown to double nitric oxide sensitivity (nitrosative stress)  http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Chemical-Nuclear/Nitric-Oxide-Radiosensitivity30nov57.htm  a leading condition in AIDS development. http://polioforever.wordpress.com/nitrogen/



Early X-ray citations from the Journal of Experimental Medicine begin in 1898 with a tutorial for creating images http://jem.rupress.org/cgi/reprint/3/3/383

In 1922, the JEM published an experiment on a dog performed in 1919: Roentgen Ray Intoxication studies by S.L. Warren and G.H. Whipple http://jem.rupress.org/content/vol35/issue2/index.shtml#ARTICLES  Dr.Stafford L. Warren became the chief medical officer of the Manhattan Project and is recorded as contaminating the campus of the University of Rochester in cahoots with Harold Hodge and Robley Evans. Rochester became a postwar center of Health Physics research which involved secret human experiments.


“Leukemia and Medical Radiation”, Pediatrics, Vol 23, No.6, June 1959 “Polhemums and Koch..seen to provide new evidence that leukemia is causally related to medical radiation exposure”.

“Leukemia can also be produced, in man and mouse, by x-rays… It is tempting to speculate that the x-rays triggered the production of a latent virus, or if one chooses to look at it another way, that x-ray provoked the release from the cell of a bit of genetic material that then began to act as a virus.” [p29, Sloan Kettering report 1963] http://tobaccodocuments.org/lor/01134381-4442.html?zoom=750&ocr_position=above_foramatted&start_page=1&end_page=62


http://www.afrri.usuhs.mil/outreach/pdf/tmm/chapter7/chapter7.pdf  – excerpts from this lengthy document appear in the frontpage article ‘Polio Forever’, created by the military to assess ‘performance decrements’ under nuclear battlefield conditions.

“Because of its low atomic number and very low absorption for X-rays, the oldest and still one of the most important applications of beryllium is in radiation windows for X-ray tubes… Beryllium is non-magnetic. Therefore, tools fabricated out of beryllium are used by naval or military explosive ordnance disposal teams for work on or near naval mines, since these mines commonly have magnetic fuzes. They are also found in maintenance and construction materials near magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines because of the high magnetic fields generated by them. In the fields of radio communications and powerful (usually military) radars, hand tools made of beryllium are used to tune the highly magnetic klystrons, magnetrons, traveling wave tubes, etc., that are used for generating high levels of microwave power in the transmitters.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryllium
TOXIC Beryllium Exposure:”Because of the health dangers associated with beryllium exposure, the Atomic Energy Commission adopted limits for workplace beryllium exposure. These limits are extraordinarily low. They reflect the fact that there is no known safe level of beryllium exposure” http://www.braytonlaw.com/practiceareas/beryllium.htm



X-RAY and Radium Timeline

RADIUM is one million times more radioactive than uranium with a half-life of 1,600 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium For a look at early radium treatment, largely displaced by Cobalt 60 and the use of particle accelerators, read Dr. Milford Schulz’s 1974 presentation to the American Radium Society, published as “The Supervoltage Story” http://www.ajronline.org/content/124/4/540.full.pdf ;

    “To understand the history of US uranium mining one has to understand the interrelation between uranium, radium, and vanadium….  The eleven year tenure of the US monopoly in radium resulted in the extraction of approximately 197 grams of radium in US plants. Total production of radium from US ores, for the period 1898 through 1928, amounted to approximately 250 grams. The difference of 53 grams roughly represents the radium extracted overseas from Colorado Plateau ores exported between 1900 and 1912. The total world production of radium up to 1928 amounted to 575 grams, of which US production represented 43 per cent…

1871. Pitchblende was first identified in the United States in 1871 at mines in Gilpin County, near Denver, Colorado, by a miner from Cornwall in England, Richard Pearce. Pearce was familiar with pitchblende from his work in Cornish mines, and had been sent to Colorado to examine mines owned by the Rochdale Mining Company… Pearce returned to Colorado the following year, and leased the Wood mine [Eureka Gulch, Central City Colo.]. In that year, 1872, three tons of ore were produced. The ore contained about 60 per cent uranium oxide, and sold in London for a total of US$7500 (US$2500 per ton).” http://www.world-nuclear.org/reference/usumin.html

1896 – Dr. Edwin Frost at Dartmouth makes diagnostic radiographs

- electrician Wolfram C. Fuchs of Chicago performs 1,400 X-ray treatments in this year

            -  Jan., Emil H. Grubbe and R. Ludlum, Chicago, treat breast carcinoma with 18 x-ray treatments

- Apr., Archives of Clinical Skiagraphy begins publication

- June, Dr. William Gray gives 17-yr-old girl a one-hour x-ray to find a bullet in her hip; at the Army Medical Museum (now George Washington Univ.)

- New Yorker Tolson Cunningham receives a 45 minute X-ray to locate a bullet

- Thomas Edison invents the Fluoroscope http://www.edison.me.uk/edison%27sx-rayfluoroscope.htm

- Clarence Dally, Thomas Edison’s technician and glass-blower, is severely burned on his hands. Dally works two more years before becoming too sick. Both arms were amputated  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Madison_Dally

- D.W. Gage of Nebraska warns the medical community of danger

-”Becquerel finds potassium-uranyl sulfate spontaneously emits radiation” www.physics.gmu.edu/~hgeller/astr402/CosmicRayDetectors.ppt

1897 – the British take X-ray equipment to field hospitals on the Indian-Afghan border and Egypt

- Amercian X-ray Journal begins publication

- Early X-ray image taken by Arthur Schuster (U. Manchester,UK) http://www.lancashirepioneers.com/schuster/shooting.asp

1898 – Henri Becquerel announces radioactivity . Becquerel was burned from carrying newly isolated radium in his pocket.

1900 – the American Roentgen Ray Association is founded, publishes American Journal of Roentgenology

1901 – Sept., Pres. McKinley, shot twice, receives x-rays to find a ‘lost’ bullet in his gut (also recorded that no x-rays were given at the private residence where he died)

- Wilhelm Roentgen accepts the first Nobel Prize for physics; the discovery and publicity  are retold here: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1901/perspectives.html

1902 – AMA members dominate the Amer. Roentgen Ray Society

- Eastman Kodak buys an x-ray plate production company https://www.orau.org/PTP/collection/Radiology/X-Ray%20Film.htm

1903Dr. Robert Abbe, surgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City, “brought back a supply of [radium] from the Curies laboratory in Paris” and founded the practice of radium therapy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1805852/?page=1; Dr. Albert Schatz (fluoride expert and discoverer of streptomycin) reports that radium and its decay product, radon gas, where spurrilously added to public drinking water.

–Becquerel and the Curies were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering radioactivity and the new elements polonium and radium from uranium waste.

1906 – Pierre Curie dies, perhaps sick to avoid being run down by a horse-wagon; ‘pernicious anemia’ eventually takes the lives of the Curie family except for Eve, 2cd daughter and nonscientist, who lived to the age of 102. “The first attempts at treatment with radium were made with products loaned by Pierre Curie and had as their object the cure of lupus and other skin lesions. Thus radium therapy..was born in France, and was developed first through the investigations of French physicians (Danlos, Oudin, Wickham, Dominici, Cheron, Degrais and others).” [p56, ' Pierre Curie' by Marie Curie]

-Major (Dr.) John Hall-Edwards of Birmingham had his left arm amputated for incurable “x-ray dermatitis”

1907 – Andrew Carnegie endows the lab work of Mme.Curie in Paris with a perpetual grant for full time research

1909 – –formaldehyde ‘sensitivity’ studies begin [ "substances as diverse as formaldehyde, acriflavine, urethane, caffeine, hydrogen peroxide, and manganous ion are credibly reported as active [mutagens] in one or another system….and in general, the results of , i.e., X-ray treatment would not be readily distinguishable from that of formaldehyde.” http://jenniferlake.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/mutation/

1911Standard Chemical Company (SCC), first large-scale producer of radium, is founded in Pittsburgh by the Flannery brothers; “SCC’s price..was set at $120,000 per gram. Between 1913 and 1921 SCC produced about 75 to 80 grams.”  https://www.orau.org/PTP/collection/Miscellaneous/photoalbum/sscinfo.pdf

1912 – arthritis patient dies from radium injections

1913September, est. of the National Radium Institute :”The Dictionary of National Biography  describes James Douglas as “the dean of mining and metallurgical  properties.” He owned the richest copper mine in the world, the Copper Queen  Lode. Born in Canada, he was the son of Dr. James Douglas, a surgeon who became  head of the Quebec Lunatic Asylum. His son joined the Phelps-Dodge Company in  1910, later becoming its chairman. Because he had discovered extensive  pitchblende deposits on his Western mining properties, he became fascinated  with radium. In collaboration with the Bureau of Mines, a government agency  which he, for all practical purposes, controlled, he founded the National Radium  Institute.” http://www.american-buddha.com/lit.murderinject.3.htm

1914 – SCC cornered the radium market and “even sold radium fertilizer to farmers to improve crop yields” http://washingtonheraldtelegraph.com/nuclear-giant-vitro-ends-as-a-real-estate-footnote-p1726-604.htm

1915 – publication of the book manual “Radium as a Fertilizer”, Univ. of Illinois http://www.archive.org/details/radiumasfertiliz00hopk

1916 – The American Radium Society is founded. The James Lind Library records secret doping with radium. “Emanation” treatment is popular. Robert Abbe’s experiments in emanation reveal that “Young mice [exposed]..grew weak after a few days, ‘got dopey’, became paralyzed in their hind legs, and died in convulsions.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1805852/?page=4

1917 – Radium Luminous Material Corp. hires factory ‘radium girls’ to paint glow-in-the-dark dials for military gauges. The radium paint is called ‘Undark’. 

1918 – the Army has X-ray ambulances, publishes the ‘Army X-ray Manual’

1919 – The Radium Institute in Paris is founded by Marya Curie, discoverer of radium http://www.aip.org/history/curie/radinst1.htm; the Institute has two laboratories, the Curie lab and the Pasteur lab.

1921 – Mme. Curie is invited to the U.S. to receive a gram of radium (worth $100,000) for the Institute, paid for by fundraising and provided by SCC, Standard Chemical Co.  SCC would gradually lose business in the 1920s, outcompeted by Union Miniere de Haut Katanga of the Belgian Congo, but under the name of American Vanadium Co.”During World War II, work on the [SCC] site, secret at the time, became a linchpin of the  Manhattan Project that led to the atomic bomb.” http://www.canonsburgboro.com/History/Standard%20Chemical.htm“[Union Miniere's] main element was radium.  I must also explain that the monopoly of radium which they had went on for many years, till the Canadians came in with their own material [c.1931] which they found in the Eldorado mines in the north of Canada, The Canadians were very eager to sell this product. So they had their refinery, Port Hope, and they began to sell, to compete with the Belgians.”–Boris Pregel  http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/4833.html

1924 – “In Milwaukee, Clarence Karrer, who worked for his father’s X-ray equipment business, is claimed to have invented the shoe-fitting fluoroscope in 1924 as an aid to an orthopedic shoe manufacturer. Around this same time in Boston, Jacob Lowe is said to have invented the machine to help diagnose veterans with foot problems. A patent was granted to Lowe for the technology in 1927.” http://www.hemonctoday.com/article.aspx?rid=28218

1925 – ‘soft x-rays’ come into use, penetrating 2mm into the skin; used for rash and skin treatment. The medical plight of the Radium Girls is published and becomes widely known. The women had been told that radium paint was harmless and were advised to ‘shape’ their fine paintbrushes by mouth.

1930 – Stafford L. Warren, future medical chief of the Manhattan Project, publishes new techniques on X-ray mammography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stafford_L._Warren

1931 – Canada ships its first radium from Port Radium and becomes the largest exporter of uranium, still, in 2011 http://www.ccnr.org/port_radium.html 

1931-33 – Argonne (pre-national lab years) supplies radium for experiments on mental patients in Elgin, Illinois (actually begun in the 1920s) http://www.hss.energy.gov/healthsafety/OHRE/roadmap/experiments/0491doca.html#0491_Argonne; Biophysicist Robert E. Rowland gives an oral history to the DoE “Openness Project” on his knowledge of radium experiments at Argonne (1950s), Elgin State Hospital (1920s-1950s) and elsewhere. He said,”Radium is an alpha emitter… Radium is a bone-seeker, which..has the potential to stay in the human body a long time… Plutonium is an alpha emitter, and plutonium is what we [in health pysics] were brought up on as ‘This is the reason for radium studies’ ” [as a stand-in for plutonium] http://www.hss.doe.gov/HealthSafety/ohre/roadmap/histories/0461/0461_a.html

1932 – Robley D. Evans collates studies on the ‘Radium Dial Painters’ (observed in the late 1920s) Evans later becomes chief of transport for radioactive material for the Manhattan Project. He secretly sends night shipments to S.Warren and H.Hodge at the Univ. of Rochester, NY, who purposely contaminate the campus for ‘study’.

1933 – the American Radium Society initiates the Janeway Lectures https://www.americanradiumsociety.org/about/janeway.php

1936 – Percy Brown publishes “American Martyrs to Science Through the Roentgen Rays” (excerpt sample) http://www.medims.muhc.mcgill.ca/history/baker.htm

- an  X-ray Martyr’s Memorial is erected in Hamburg with 169 names on it –39 are Americans

1949 – 84 million Americans receive dental x-rays, average 5 rad exposure for each x-ray

1958 – a proposal is made that the Lung is a radiosensitive organ

1960 – the Tri-State Leukemia Survey, a diagnostic X-ray survey of 6 million people performed by Johns Hopkins U., issues explicit warnings

1980s – X-ray film sales in the US went up 250%. In the same time period, surveys prove routine irregularities in X-ray equipment dosages & training

1993 – CT scans deliver 10 times more irradiation than conventional X-ray; the ‘ultra-fast’ CT even more

Dec.29, 2009 “Radiation doses in common CT vary widely and are higher than what is generally thought”….
T-Rays (terahertz microwaves), used for radioastronomy and airport body scanners:
The discussion:  http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24331/
The equipment: http://www.prosecurityzone.com/Customisation/News/Detection/Radiation_Detection/Using_terahertz_radiation_for_airport_screening.asp
The scanner-contractor companies: Rapiscan, OSI Systems Inc. and L-3 Communications


Learning Resources

Dr. John W. Gofman http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/radFAQP.html

‘Silent Slaughter’, by Joel Griffiths


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