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"I did more research, and realized I almost would rather be a biologist than a writer, because there was incredible stuff going on!"
- Greg Bear

Radium Salt  
  Radioactive materials used as an assassination weapon.  

And calmly the drunk [Earthman] took one of the exquisite Venusian flame orchids from the center vase, salted it, and began to eat it...

The man's lax handsome face was contorting now in agony, his eyes protruding, his body arched half out of his chair, his hands clawing the air...

"Don't touch him with your bare hands!" Crane cried.

For the body of the poisoned man was beginning to glow faintly, his face giving off a feeble, eery white light!

"This man was poisoned with a super-powerful radium salt," Rab Crane declared to the horrified officers. "He died instantly in awful agony and his whole body is charged with radioactive force now and will have to be handled with lead gloves. Someone substituted the radium salt for the ordinary salt in this salt shaker."

From Murder in the Void, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

As far as I know, this is an early reference to the idea of using radioactive materials as assassination weapons. The first person probably killed this way was Russian journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin in 2003. He was investigating the Russian secret service and died several days before a planned trip to the US to meet with the FBI; the symptoms of his fatal illness fit the pattern of poisoning by radioactive materials.

Radioactive "salts" really do exist. Radium bromide is the bromide salt of radium. It is produced during the separation of radium from uranium ore. It was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie in 1898 and gave great hope to those who were interested in using radioactive substances in medicine, because the compound is relatively stable (unlike radium, which oxidises rapidly in the open air, and decomposes quickly in water).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Murder in the Void
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to Murder in the Void
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

Radium Salt-related news articles:
  - Arafat Poisoned With Polonium?

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