Man pulled over for being radioactive

Illustration for article titled Man pulled over for being radioactive

Last Wednesday, Mike Apatow was getting on to Interstate 84 in Newtown, CT, when police stopped him for no reason he could determine. When the cop told him that his car had set off his radioactivity detectors, it started making sense: Apatow was most certainly radioactive.


Earlier in the day, Apatow had had a bit of radioactive material injected into his veins. He wasn't trying to turn himself into a superhero—just trying to keep himself alive. The off-duty firefighter had gone to a cardiology office to have a cardiac stress test, which tracks the function of the heart by tracking radioactivity as it moves through the circulatory system. Apatow had come to the office after feeling ill earlier and finding that his blood pressure had gone up way above where it was usually. Whatever caused the blip went away quickly, and Apatow went back to work, as recounted at

Cardiologists say this kind of issue is more common than you might think, and often warn their stress-test patients that they may run into some unwanted attention in places like airports. Apatow's doctor had in fact given him a document explaining the situation just in case he got ran into any suspicion of nuclear monkey business. So in the end, he emerged from both the stress test and the police stop without missing a beat.


Image: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

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Okay, wait, CT patrol has radioactivity detectors kicking around near I84 that can detect someone in a car driving who's had a tracer injection earlier in the day? I think of most tracers as having a really short half-life. (The time I had a tracer used to track circulation and see if I had a hairline fracture in a bone, the tracer arrived shielded in a metal (lead?) encased container, but they didn't offer me anything in case I set of detectors anywhere, though.)

My god, what does it do when someone drives a semi-trailer full of cigarettes near it? (tobacco is often surprisingly radioactive)