heavy water

Dennis Goode GOODE at ZOOL.UMD.EDU
Fri Apr 14 14:54:14 EST 1995


Wendy and Mark,

I should add that I wouldn't recommend drinking heavy water.
At high concentrations (about 45-50%) D20 starts to have serious 
effects on cells. Best documented, to my knowledge is its stabilizing 
effect on microtubules. Although the mechanism is probably different, 
involving D2O being a slightly poorer solvent than H20 for tubulin 
subunits in a dynamic steady state with the microtubule, its effects 
are similar to the anticancer drug taxol.  That is, in places like the 
mitotic spindle where microtubules need to depolymerize, they instead 
stay the same length or grow longer.  The result is no chromosome 
movement to the poles and cells don't divide. If anyone is seriously 
interested in the effects I can send references or reprints.

Fortunately (or unfortunately for Wendy's script) you'd have to 
drink about half your body weight in heavy water to get this effect,
It would not immediately be lethal, and could be reversed by drinking 
normal H20. Its a clever idea for a murder plot but hard to pull off 
in reality.

(I dont have Wendy's original message; could you forward this to her, 
Mark?)

 -Dennis Goode


From:           mthorn at cix.compulink.co.uk 
("Mark Thornton") > Subject:        Re: heavy water
> Date sent:      Tue, 11 Apr 1995 16:40:42 GMT

> Heavy water is no more poisonous than ordinary water except perhaps to 
> your bank balance. For chemists its value is that its chemical behaviour 
> is (almost) exactly the same as ordinary water, but molecules 
> incorporating it can be detected by mass spectrographs because they are 
> slightly heavier. This tracing effect is helpful in understanding 
> chemical processes.
> 
> Tritiated water (contains tritium oxide) is radioactive. Too much of that 
> would be unhealthy, but not because its chemistry is different, just the 
> radiation damage.
> 
> The chemical formulae are really the same for all three, but often 'D' is 
> substituted for the H to indicate heavy water (or a 'T' to indicate 
> tritium oxide). (ie H2O, D2O, T2O where the '2' should be a subscript).
> 
> Mark Thornton
> 
> > Can anyone tell me the chemical formula for heavy water and in what 
> > dosage
> > is it harmful. Also what are the symptoms of someone who has ingested 
> > too
> > much.
> >     I need this info for a sci-fi screenplay that I am writing. (I am 
> > not
> > planning an elaborate murder.) :)
> >                                        -Wendy Wolk
> >                                          USC Cinema/TV
> 



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