Quantum and Nuclear

Byers’ lead coffin

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 16-19 IOP RESOURCES

The death, in 1932, of Eben McBurney Byers prompted a reconsideration of the dangers of radiation. Byers, a rich industrialist, socialite and athlete drank more than a thousand bottles of Radithor, a radium-treated water, perhaps lured by the manufacturer’s claims of the healing effects of radiation. The drink had quite the opposite effect, leading to the loss of his jaw and the formation of holes in his skull. The high levels of radiation in his body meant Byers was buried in a lead-lined coffin.

Byers’ lead coffin


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