Mysterious Indonesian "power cards" -- which have been lapped up by Khon Kaen locals for their supposed ability to cure all diseases -- have been found to be highly radioactive, which some samples registering radioactive emission of up to 350 times the safe limit for annual exposure, says the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP).
The agency said that one of the cards it tested registered radioactive emissions of up to 40 microsieverts per hour.
An X-ray examination showed that the cards contain a combination of uranium and thorium, which are spread evenly across the surface, the agency said.
The OAP reminded that exposure to radioactive elements can be harmful to health.
"We are currently trying to analyse the degree of radioactive contamination in the area," the statement said, after many villagers placed the cards on certain spots on their bodies to relieve aches and pains, while others went as far as dipping their cards in their drinking water in the hope of curing their illnesses.
"Dipping the cards into drinking water may contaminate it with carcinogenic particles, which increase the risk of cancer," the OAP warned. "As such, members of the public should refrain from using the cards, to prevent unnecessary exposure to radioactivity."
Power card owners are advised to contact Thailand's Institute of Nuclear Technology on 02-40-9885 to learn how to safely dispose of them. The OAP carried out its analysis after reports emerged that the cards were being sold in Ubol Ratana district for 1,500 baht per card on average.
The cards bore no information about their medicinal properties. However, the company supplying them told locals the cards could emit "power" that can cure illnesses and boost health. The cards bear the words Kartu Sakti, meaning magic card in Bahasa Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) yesterday received a petition asking the office to launch a probe into the firm that supplies them.
The petition stated that the company is located in Songkhla's Hat Yai district, and suggests that it may be a part of a larger pyramid scheme.
The petition was lodged by Satsatra Sipan, a Palang Pracharath Party MP for Songkhla, and was received by Pol Maj Woranan Srilam, deputy DSI spokesman.
Mr Satsatra said the company is registered as a soap distributor. No legal complaints have yet been lodged against the firm, he said.