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April 27, 2015
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Current Concerns  >  2009  >  No 14, August 2009  >  Function and Significance of Potassium for the Human Body – Possible Consequences of Enhanced Intake of Radioactive Potassium-40 [printversion]

Function and Significance of Potassium for the Human Body – Possible Consequences of Enhanced Intake of Radioactive Potassium-40

by Dr. med. Andreas Bau, Dr. sc. nat. Hans Könitzer

In February 2009 H. W. Gabriel and Dr D. Schalch presented data from an investigation of soil samples from Serbia, and reported some remarkable shifts in isotopic concentrations of potassium.1 In comparison to natural potassium an enhanced fraction – up to 100fold – of radioactive potassium-40 was found. The element of potassium occurs in nature as a mixture of three isotopes, K-39 (93.94 %), K-40 (0.117 %) and K-41(6.3 %). One would expect radioactive potassium-40, which is a beta and gamma ray emitter with a very long half life, to account for only 0.117 % of natural potassium. The soil samples were analysed by means of gamma spectroscopy and chemotechnical methods, results were shown to be reliable and reproducible. An outstandingly high proportion of potassium-40, up to 100fold that of normal, was measured. Taking into consideration, that natural variation in isotopic proportions due to different geological influences is quite narrow (around 1 ‰), than the question arises, where these high amounts of potassium 40 come from. It is not part of the radioactive series of either uranium or thorium. This excludes uranium to be the source of potassium 40. In fact K-40 can only be produced by nuclear transformation of another element. For instance, firing neutrons at non-radioactive calcium 40 will produce radioactive potassium-40 particles. The finding of enhanced concentrations of additional radioactive isotopes such as carbon-14 and beryllium-10 can only be explaned by a nuclear reaction, which produced these particles on the spot. In other words, weapons must have been used, which lead to such nuclear reactions (tactical atomic weapons).  
We have to face the question, which dangers for the human organism result from enhanced intake of radioactive potassium-40. At first we would like to illustrate the significance of potassium from the medical point of view.

Function and significance of potassium in the human body

Talking about potassium now, we refer to the naturally occuring potassium the way we ingest it with our meals on a daily basis. In nature potassium is found exclusively as a cation (positively charged ion). It is the most important cation within all human and animal organisms and it is indispensable for normal cellular function. A diet especially rich in potassium would consist of meat, fruits such as apricots, kiwi, cherries, black currants and especially bananas, vegetables such as potatos, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach or celery. Mushrooms and nuts also have a high potassium content. A healthy human body will easily balance out any increased potassium intake. That means, eating a lot of bananas or other potassium sources will not increase the intracellular potassium concentration.  Things look different if we ingest or inhale potassium which is altered by unnaturally enhanced potassium-40 concentrations1. In war areas this can happen by food contamination, but also by inhalation of contaminated dust. It is a fact of chemistry, that isotopes are chemically undistinguishable. Biochemistry of human, animal or plant metabolism cannot distinguish potassium-39 from either potassium-40 or potassium-41. The organism deals with all isotopes the same way and has no mechanism to separate radioactive potassium-40 particles from normal metabolic pathways.  

Potassium – most important factor of internal radiation

The amount of potassium present in the body is located in 98% within the cells and only in 2% outside the cells. “The level of the inner exposure to radiation in a human being is up to now predominantly determined by potassium 40. It is about 0,2 mSv/a. The increase of the concentration of potassium 40 by the factor 100 leads to a very critical level of contamination (20 mSv/a !!).”1 One would predict that radiocative potassium-40, which was found to be elevated 100fold in the analysed soil samples, after entering the food chain would be transported into living cells and damage important functions of cell organellas such as the cell nucleus or mitochondria by its radiation, which especially the nucleus is very vulnerable to.     

Mitochondria – the power plants of the cell

In order to understand the importance of mitochondria, we have to do a little excourse about their way of functioning: Mitochondria are egg shaped organellas, which are next to the nucleus the second largest structures in the cell with a length of about 300–800 nm and some 100 nm of thickness. They are encoated by a double membrane. They are located in proximity to the nucleus. Mitochondria have their own DNA (desoxyribonucleic acid, which carries the genetic information) and they are therefore capable of transscribing their own proteins. Cellular “breathing” takes place in the mitochondria, and their main task is the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the most important energy source of all metabolic activities . That’s why mitochondria are often referred to as the “power plants” of the cell.

Damaging of intrinsic cell repair mechanisms

Energy from ATP is necessary, among other things, to produce water soluble glutathione (GSH), which is as so-called antioxidans. GSH is the first line repair system for most cellular structures, if they were damaged by free radicals. Free radicals are chemically highly aggressive compounds, and ionising radiation exerts its biological consequences mainly by the formation of free radicals. In addition to that GSH offers protection against chemical mutagens, which are dangerous for the cell by their potential to change the genetic information. Normally this antioxidative function of GSH is regarded as a protective mechanism against the development of cancer, because it neutralises free radicals. But without sufficient amounts of ATP there is a lack of GSH and the repair mechanisms fail.2 Potassium-40, which was ingested with the food and transported into the cell will not only damage the cell nucleus but also ATP production in the mitochondria and therefore the cellular repair mechanisms!

Impaired excretion of heavy metals

Another important task of GSH is its contribution to the clearance of toxic heavy metal ions from the cell. Heavy metals bind to GSH and are transported out of all body cells to the bile ducts of the liver and finally excreted via the gall bladder into the bowel system.2 So it is understandable why any damage to the mitochondria by radiating substances such as potassium-40 has so deleterious consequences.

Life threatening shifts of electrolyte

ATP from the “cellular power plants” is necessary for another indispensable function of human life. Body and cell fluids are basically electrolyte solutions due to the ions they contain. The presence of certain ions around biological membranes leads to the formation of electric potentials which are essential for life function. Mainly the relation between sodium and potassium ions is of utmost importance. Inside the cell there is more potassium and outside more sodium. Sodium-potassium balance is maintained by the sodium potassium pump. This is an enzyme system with a huge energy demand, utilizing 30% to 70% of all ATP produced in the body. The outstanding role of ATP was described above in the function of the mitochondria. Without sufficient ATP supplies the sodium potassium pump cannot function properly and membrane permeability will break down. At the end these disturbances lead to life threatening electrolyte shifts between intra and extra cellular fluids and finally changes of the cell volume.
From these explanations the outstanding importance of potassium for the maintenance of central life functions of the organism becomes clear. And in the same way the life threatening and life destroying potential of radioactive potassium-40 becomes clear, too, this terrible byproduct of an absolutely inhumane weapon employed in an absolutely inhumane war.    •

1 Dipl. Ing. H. W. Gabriel, Dr. D. Schalch, Measurement of Radioactivity of Soil Samples from Serbia, Part 2. Current Concerns No 9/10, May 2009
2 Rosalie Bertell, Occupational Hazards of War. Depleted Uranium: All the Questions About DU and Gulf War Syndrome Are not yet Answered, International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 36 (2006), Nr. 3, Pages 503-520,

What kind of weapons has been used here?

It is a well-known and cruel fact that wars are frequently utilized to test new weapons. Although there is massive secrecy in this domain, public debates are undesired and sometimes suppressed by all available means, everybody can imagine that the countless scientists and engineers who serve the weapons industry do not draw their salaries simply for remakes of old weapons. Meanwhile it can no longer be concealed that in Iraq, in Somalia, in Serbia and Kosovo, in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza – everywhere the US and its allies waged wars or supplied them with weapons – they did not only leave behind immediate death and destruction. From all these countries there were and are alarming reports about unknown injuries and clinical syndromes or unprecedented increases in cancers, reporting of genetic damages and congenital malformations in newborns.
In the regions of former Yugoslavia it was evident that certain diseases occurred quite soon after weapons had been used. Another particularity is represented by the massive accumulation of multiple tumours. People do not only develop one single form of cancer, but two or three.
In the meantime some research has been made and insights have been gained – as for example about the so-called Depleted Uranium. Uranium dust in the form of the tiniest nano-particles is set free and can break through biological barriers such as the blood-brain barrier or the placental barrier and then enter the cell. This has serious radiotoxic and chemotoxic consequences.
The analysis of soil samples from Serbia has now revealed additional results. Not only Uranium and its decay products have been found but other radioactive elements and substances as well. These results raise serious questions. The detected isotopic proportion for Potassium, for instance, cannot be found in nature; it has no relation to the decay particles of Uranium but is known as a result of nuclear weapons tests. What does this mean? What kind of weapons has been used here? After the bombing of the national TV station in the centre of Belgrade two bodies of the 16 killed TV employees were untraceable. They were literally «vaporised», as is reported in the film «Yugoslavia: the avoidable war».* The effects of heat must have been immense – so massive, that it can only be explained by the use of radioactive weapons – a nuclear explosion in small format. Has a new generation of nuclear weapons been tested here?
In view of the health problems in the afflicted countries – which have also been observed with US/Nato soldiers who returned home – it is an obligation under international law for those countries that made use of these weapons to get the effects clear. Mankind has the right to know what she is facing here and what this means for her natural resources. And soon. Otherwise all talking about law, human rights and democracy, but also about ecology and the protection of our natural environment degenerates into a farce.
It is a matter of obvious war crimes that are revealed. Those who help to cover them become complicit in the crime. This is one of the conclusions the international community had drawn from the World War II and which it laid down in the regulations of international law. Every member of government and each people’s representative of the war alliance are taken up on their promises.
The accompanying article explains the effects of radioactive Potassium-40 on the organism. Inter alia, it shows how cell repair mechanisms – important defence mechanisms of the human body against the occurrence of cancer cells – are being destroyed. And it provides us with an insight into the damages that the development and spreading of those substances does to life on earth.
Erika Vögeli

*”Yugoslavia: the avoidable war”, USA/D 1999/2001, Direction: George Bogdanich and Martin Lettmayer. English version at –(part 1) and (part 2).