Dr. Eric Voice, a nuclear physicist who was often described as the most radioactive man on the planet, died over the Sept. 11th weekend of motor neuron disease. He was 80.
To examine the effects of radioactivity on the body, Voice volunteered to be a human guinea pig. In 1992, he and Dr. Don Newton were given a series of plutonium injections. The results of the trials showed that in men, plutonium generally accumulated in the liver and not in the bones or reproductive organs (as was previously believed).
Over the next five years, Voice and 11 others did further experiments, each inhaling the type of plutonium isotopes found in nuclear reactors. In 1999, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) declared that all of the subjects had remained healthy. A strong advocate of nuclear power, Voice dismissed fears about the health risks of plutonium as “media hype.”
Born in London, Voice studied at the Goudhurst School in Kent. At 15, he became a research chemist with Boots, a company that sells health and beauty products. Voice joined the UKAEA as a research biochemist after World War II and later earned a degree in English and a doctorate in physics. One of the first western scientists to visit Chernobyl after the 1986 nuclear explosion, Voice made several visits to the Ukraine to research the effects of the accident on local plant and animal life.
Correction, Sept. 12, 2015: A report credited to the Daily Record previously stated that the deceased’s body was buried in a lead-lined coffin. According to his son, Mr. Voice was cremated.