Why radioactivity will kill all Asians

DON’T READ THIS if you live in Asia and worry about dying from a radioactive leak


SO A READER forwarded me a terrifying news clipping about a guy who found an odd-looking bit of metal when cleaning a RADIOACTIVE TESTING FACILITY and slipped it into his pocket. As you would.

Staff eventually noticed their iridium 192 was missing and sounded the alarm, causing the man, whose name was Wang, to throw his find away.

This recent incident in Nanjing, China, illustrates the joy of doing dangerous things in a democracy-free country, but teaches useful lessons for all of us.

1) When cleaning radioactive facilities, interesting pieces of metal MAY NOT BE INTERESTING IN A GOOD WAY.

2) If you have pocketed such an item, count body parts regularly.

“Hmm, I seem to have grown another head. Could that be a sign of something?”

3) People running testing labs should tighten procedures if staff say things like: “I don’t have the iridium 192. I thought YOU had it.”


The article in the Shanghai Daily said Wang threw the sliver of metal into scrubland near his home and ran to hospital because he felt strange. Go figure.

Lab staff decided that the only safe procedure was to look for it in shifts lasting just three minutes each, which is about the same as a normal civil service work shift in China anyway.

“Hi, reporting for work, clocking in. Okay, I’m stepping into the scrubland… walking around a bit… Can’t see it this way…. Can’t see it that way…. Oh look, it’s nearly the end of my shift, tidy up time… where do I pick up my cash?”


The iridium 192 went missing on a Wednesday morning and was recovered on the Saturday evening. Staff promised to “do their very best” not to lose any more in future.

That’s enormously comforting, you’ll agree!


Wang became “unwell”, a wire report said, which may be a polite way of saying they’ve lost count of his limbs, heads, etc.


At a coffee shop, I showed this story to my friend Stewey, who is thinking of moving to China for work. (I know it was a cruel thing to do.)

“Radiation isn’t always bad for you,” he countered. “Look at Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Hulk, etc.”

I was going to point out that these were comic books, but you have to respect people’s beliefs.


So instead I said there were different types of radiation. “If you are affected by that type, you have to fight crime.”

This silenced him.

He eventually said: “Cockroaches can survive nuclear wars.”

This was stunningly irrelevant but gave me a new level of respect for cockroach spray.



Stewey told me that after the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, a guy called Professor Takayuki Takahashi (I bet even he can’t say his name six times very fast) attached radiation meters to monkeys to gather data. TRUE STORY!



Since hearing that, I have become convinced that a huddle of super-evolved apes are living at the Fukushima canteen drinking Suntory and organizing regular radioactive water leaks to keep humans away. You read it here first.


Meanwhile, the Chinese media reports that work at the Nanjing radioactivity testing lab has “returned to normal”.


Now that’s scary.