Movie D.O.A "luminous toxin"

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by kevinalm, May 5, 2006.

  1. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

    This is a bit of an odd question and no, I'm not planning on poisoning anyone. ;)

    I bought the old b/w 50's movie D. O. A. on dvd at Walmart for a buck and at the end there is a statement from the movie's technical advisor that the movie was based on real medical fact and that "luminous poison" is a descriptive term for a real poison. Apparently a test for the substance involves luminescence. Anyone know what this substance is? This has bugged me ever since I first saw the movie many years ago.
  2. Boris2 Registered Senior Member

    iridium, i think.
  3. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

    In the film, iridium was the stolen product for which Bigelow notorized the sale, and why he was subsequently poisoned.

    Its MSDS says that toxicity is "probably low". It doesn't say anything about glowing in the dark.

    I couldn't find anything solid on Google. Radium and Phosphorus are the only things I could think of that might fit the bill, with Radium being the more likely.
  4. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

    I though of phosphorus, but from what I remember of it's toxicology it doesn't seem to fit. Radium doesn't seem quite right either, as the time frame is so short for fatality in the movie and the mode of death would likely be luekemia. In the movie they state that the poison attacks the internal organs, not just the bone marrow. The only thing I can think of is colchicin (not sure I spelled that right). I know it tends to be slow and pretty much attacks the entire body. (stops cell division, real nasty) Don't know if it glows in the dark.
  5. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

    How much radium would have to be ingested to kill someone by radiation poisoning, rather than cancer?
  6. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

    Not sure. Probably a lot. IIRC, chemically it's a calcium analogue and a strong alpha emitter. Goes straight for the bone marrow, so blood disorders are the norm. Being concentrated in bone and an alpha source, it might be rather difficult to deliver a lethal whole body dose by injestion.
  7. valich Registered Senior Member

    Is this a fiction or nonfiction movie?

    "Little Boy" on Hiroshima killed 140,000 people within one year. "Fat Man" on Nagasaki, though more powerful, caused less deaths due to geographics and population - 70,000 people died by the end of the year. Temperature rose to 7,000 degree F so this was a major factor. However a single rapid dose of radiation can kill anyone instantly.

    "Radiation dose is measured in several different units, but all relate to the amount of energy deposited. The units include the roentgen (R), the gray (Gy), and the sievert (Sv). The sievert and gray are similar, except the sievert takes into account the biologic effects of different types of radiation....The average person receives a total of about 3 to 4 mSv (1 mSv = 1/1000 Sv) per year from natural radiation and man-made sources....Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl...received only about 0.08 mSv additional radiation. However, people living near the Chernobyl plant were exposed to about 430 mSv of radiation." 30 people died near the same day but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cancer related deaths just coming to surface today from both these events, especially Chernobyl. Therefore we still don't know the exact fatal amount over a long period of time, nor the affects.

    "350 rads will cause a 50% fatality rate within two months"

    Radon levels measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L): "The lifetime risk of developing lung cancer from household water that contains 1,000 pCi/L of radon is roughly 3 to 13 in 10,000; from water with 10,000 pCi/L of radon, the risk is approximately 3 to 13 in 1,000; for water containing 100,000 pCi/L is about 3 to 12 in 100."

    "Continuous or frequent annual external radiation exposure to a population should not exceed 100 millirem per year. A limit of 500 millirem per year for an individual should be applied for an infrequent annual exposure."

  8. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

    It's a fictional movie, but supposedly the poison used is real. A real quick rundown on the plot: An accountant takes a short vacation to experience a little "wine, women and song" in the city. He doesn't feel well after his first night out so he sees a doctor who discovers that the man has been fatally poisoned. Hence the title "D. O. A." (dead on arrival, a common medical term in English). The man spends the rest of the movie solving his own murder. (Two or three days.) Not a bad film really, though a little over acted.

    Anyway, the poison is referred to as "luminous toxin" in the film because a test for it apparently involves luminesence. A blurb at the end of the film from the technical advisor states that there is in fact such a poison. I've always been curious as to its identity.
  9. Ronin909 Registered Member

    I just watched this movie. Based on some quick web searches, I think the poision was phosphorus. Google books has "Poisons, Their Effects and Detection" (1895!) which has a section on phosphorus.

    Apparently death can occur in a number of days or weeks depending on several factors, as is stated in the film. The symptoms match fairly well with what the book states.

    I also read that this was one of the more popular chemicals used by people to poison themselves or others in the 1700's and 1800's, and that some people working in manufacturing facilities using phosphorus became posioned by it.
  10. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    I dont know if this will help at all but anyway

    D.O.A was mentioned in a couple of other shows most noticably the NCIS eposode "dead man walking" (also an epoisode of CSI miamie). In that case the poision was Thallium, in the eposode of CSI it was the isotope used in radiation theorpy for cancer (i think its radium but i cant rember off the top of my head).

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