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Cesium-137

Cesium (Cs) is a metal with atomic number 55, group 1 and period 6. It can be non-radioactive or radioactive. Cesium-137 is one of its most common radioactive forms.

History of Cesium-137

Cesium metal was first discovered in 1860 by two Germans Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff while working on flame spectroscopy. Radioactive Cesium with other variants was first discovered in late 1930s.

Cesium-137 Radioactive Source

Non-radioactive Cesium is found naturally in many metals. Cesium-137 is produced when neutron is absorbed by uranium and plutonium and undergoes fission. This process is used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

Facts of Cesium-137

Some of the important facts about this radioactive substance are as follows:

  • It is only one of the three metals that are liquid in room temperature (83 °F).
  • It is a soft, malleable metal with silvery white color
  • Half-life of Cesium-137 is 30.17 years.
  • Its molecular weight is 136.9071.
  • Its nominal mass is 137 Da, average mass 136.9071 Da, and monoisotopic mass 136.9071 Da.
Cesium-137


Picture 1 – Cesium-137
Source – en.wikipedia.org

Uses of Cesium-137

This radioactive substance is used for a number of reasons. Some of its main uses are summed up here:

  • Its strong radioactive nature makes it very useful as isotopes in nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors and industries.
  • It is used as a moisture-density gauge in the construction industry.
  • It is used for detecting liquid flow in pipelines and tanks.
  • This radioactive metal is used in measuring gauges, for calculating dimensions of sheet metal, paper, film and other such products.
  • One of Cesium’s notable usages is in atomic clocks. The speed of vibrations in the element’s outer electrons is recorded and multiplied by 9,192,635,770 to determine a second.
  • In medical science, it is used to treat cancer.

Environmental Exposure of Cesium-137

People are exposed to this substance in very small quantities through soil and environmental fallouts. Exposure to this radioactive substance was mainly because of nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s. However, much of it is now decayed. Nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine and fallout of tsunami in Japan in 2011 release some amount of Cesium-137. For instance, water from units 1-4 at Fukushima Daiichi plant has polluted adjoining seawater with this substance. Often, industrial and healthcare equipments containing Cesium-137 are not disposed properly or stolen. In such cases, there is significant risk of contamination.

Health Implications of Cesium-137

If drinking water is contaminated with this metal, it can directly enter the body thereby exposing living tissues to beta and gamma radiation. Human beings may be exposed to it with food or water or through dust. Once inside the body, it spreads uniformly across the soft body tissues. Concentration of this metal is a bit higher in muscles while lower in bones and fats. Compared to many other radionuclides, it remains in the body for a relatively shorter period of time and eliminated through urine. Exposure to this metal can lead to cancer, as is the case with other radionuclides. Very high exposure, which is rare, could lead to serious burns and even death.

Medical Tests to Detect Cesium-137 Presence

There are specialized ways to detect exposure of Cesium-137 to human body, such as a method called “whole-body counting”. There are a number of portable appliances that can measure its level in soft tissue samples from organs or blood, bones, and milk.

Cesium-137 Elimination

Beta particles emission and relatively strong radiation of gamma lead to the radioactive decay of this substance. It degenerates to barium-137m, a short lasting decay output, which then converts to a non-radioactive variant of barium. Half-life of Cesium-137 is 30.17 years. Elimination of this metal is difficult because it moves easily through the environment.

References:

http://epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/Cesium.html

http://www.chemspider.com/Chemical-Structure.4588952.html

http://www.matpack.de/Info/Nuclear/Nuclids/C/Cs137.html

Plutonium-238

Plutonium-238 is an isotope of plutonium. It is a radioactive substance extensively used as a longstanding fuel source in space probes.

Identification of Plutonium-238

The CAS Registry Number for this radioactive isotope is 13981-16-3.

History of Plutonium-238

Among the different isotopes of plutonium, Pu-238 was the first to be discovered. In 1941, Glenn Seaborg and associates bombarded uranium-238 using deuterons to synthesize Plutonium-238. The intermediate product Neptunium-238 goes through decomposition to form Plutonium-238.

Nucleus of Plutonium-238

There are 144 Neutrons and 94 Protons in the Plutonium-238 isotope.

Symbol of Plutonium-238

The symbol denoting Plutonium-238 is written as 238Pu.

Plutonium-238 Picture
Plutonium-238


Picture 1 – Plutonium-238

Production of Plutonium-238

Plutonium-238 can be produced by hitting uranium-238 with deuterons. This method is expressed in the following reaction.

238Pu92 + 2D1 → 238Np93 + 21n0

238Np93 → 238Pu94

In the above reaction, Uranium-238 is hit by a deuteron which produces Neptunium-238 and two neutrons, which then undergoes spontaneous decomposition through emission of negatively charged beta particles and forming Plutonium-238 in the process.

Pure Plutonium-238 can be generated by irradiating americium in a nuclear reactor or by irradiating neptunium-237 which is a minor actinide derived while reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. In each case, the derived components are then subjected to a chemical reaction. This involves dissolving the components in nitric acid for extracting Pu-238 from them.

Reactor-grade plutonium obtained from spent nuclear fuel consists of several plutonium isotopes, out of which only 1% or 2% is Plutonium-238. However due to its brief half-life, this small percentage is probably responsible for most of the short-term decay heat produced from the spent nuclear fuel. This is not an effective way for manufacturing Plutonium-238 for Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) as the spent nuclear fuel would have to go through a difficult process of isotopic separation.

Properties of Plutonium-238

The various Plutonium-238 properties have been discussed below:

Appearance

It is a solid, bright silvery metal.

Critical Mass

The critical mass of Plutonium-238 for bare sphere is 10 kg.

Critical Diameter

The critical diameter of Plutonium-238 for a uniform sphere is 9.7 cm.

Isotope Mass

The Isotope mass of Plutonium-238 is 238.049553 u.

Decay Mode

Plutonium-238 decay modes include alpha emission, spontaneous fission, 32Si cluster emission and 28Mg + 30Mg double cluster emission.

Decay Energy

Energy released by Plutonium-238 during decomposition is 5.593 MeV.

Branching Ratio

The branching ratio for Plutonium-238 while decaying through alpha emission is 100%.

The branching ratio for Plutonium-238 while decaying through spontaneous fission is 1.9 x 10-9.

The branching ratio for Plutonium-238 while decaying through 32Si cluster emission is 1.4 x 10-16.

The branching ratio for Plutonium-238 while decaying through 28Mg + 30Mg double cluster emission is 6 x 10-17.

Daughter Nuclide

Uranium-234 is produced as a daughter nuclide when Pu-238 undergoes decomposition.

Magnetic Dipole Moment

The magnetic dipole moment of Plutonium-238 is 0 μN.

Spin Parity

Spin parity of Pu-238 is represented as Jπ = 0+ (atomic boson).

Binding Energy

Binding energy per nucleon of Pu-238 is 7.568354 MeV.

Specific Activity

The specific activity SA of Plutonium-238 is 634 GBq/g.

Half-Life of Plutonium-238

In radioactivity, half-life is the time taken by a specific amount of a radioactive substance that undergoes decomposition to be decreased by half. The half-life for Plutonium-238 is 87.7 years.

Radioactive Decay of Plutonium-238

The unstable atomic nucleus of Plutonium-238 loses energy in order to reach a stable stage. This reaction is defined as radioactive decay. Plutonium-238 releases around 5.593 MeV of energy through radioactive decay.

Plutonium-238 Decay Equation

The alpha decomposition of Plutonium-238 is shown in the equation below:

94238Pu → 92234U + 24He

The helium nucleus 24He in this reaction equation has got atomic number 2 and mass number 4. Helium here indicates the alpha particle. This reaction can also be represented in the following way:

94238Pu → 92234U + α

Plutonium-238 Decay Chain

Plutonium-238 goes through decomposition to produce Uranium-234 as the daughter nuclide. At the end of this Alpha decay chain, the stable element that is produced is Lead-206. The complete decay chain is expressed in the following reaction:

Plutonium-238 → Uranium-234 → Radium-226 → Radon-222 → Polonium-218 → Lead-214 → Bismuth-214 → Polonium-214 → Lead-210 → Bismuth-210 → Polonium-210 → Lead-206

Plutonium-238 Fission

Plutonium-238 is not a fissile material and so it is incapable of sustaining chain reactions. However, this substance is fissionable when struck by high energy neutrons.

Uses of Plutonium-238

The various uses of Plutonium-238 are described below:

  • Plutonium-238 is a very strong alpha particle emitter. Since the chances of getting other forms of more powerful and penetrating radiation are minimal, this isotope of Plutonium is used in radioisotope heater units and Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs).
  • This substance produces almost 0.5 watts of heat per gram. It is thus used as an important source of power for fueling interplanetary probes and unmanned spacecrafts. Nuclear batteries using Pu-238 have been used in the Voyager and Pioneer space probes.
  • Trace amounts of Plutonium-238 were also used in manufacturing early pacemaker batteries.
  • A combination of Pu-238 and beryllium produces neutrons which are used in research purposes.

Plutonium-238 Contamination and Health Risks

Plutonium-238 is a dangerous carcinogenic substance. Like Pu-239, Pu-238 is hard to locate once it enters the body and has been absorbed by it.

The main health hazards come from the alpha (α) radiation emitted by Pu-238. These particles are much heavier than the beta and gamma radiation particles and so when they are within the body, they constantly bombard a particular area thereby causing cancer.

Traces of Plutonium-238 mostly get lodged in soft tissues, like in the bone marrow, the liver, on bone surfaces and other non-calcified bony structures. The major threat to human health comes from inhaling this radioactive substance. This can damage the cells and tissues of the lungs and the bronchial tubes. The substance can also enter the body through cuts and abrasions and be absorbed in the blood stream.

Plutonium-238 is one of the most indispensable of all the radioactive isotopes. Without it, the cause of space research would have been much difficult to pursue.

References:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Pu-238+

http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/pu-props.html

http://www.ieer.org/ensec/no-3/puhealth.html

Iridium-192

Definition of Iridium-192

It is a radioactive isotope of Iridium with symbol 192Ir.

Sources of Iridium-192

It is a man-made radioactive element that is produced by nonradioactive Iridium metal in a nuclear reactor.

Color of Iridium-192

It is a dense metal that is shiny and silvery-white in appearance.

Properties of Iridium-192

Know about some of the chemical as well as physical properties of this element.

  • Its binding energy per nucleon is 7.938986 MeV (Megaelectronvolts).
  • It has a melting point of 2,446°C.
  • It has a boiling point of 4,428°C.
  • Its specific gravity is 22.562 (at 20°C).
  • It is a dense metal and has a relative density of 22.42.

Fact Sheet of Iridium-192

Know about some important facts associated with this substance.

  • The mass number of this radioactive element is 192.
  • The atomic number of this element is 77.
  • Its neutron number is 115.
  • The atomic mass of this radioactive substance is 191.962605012 u (unified atomic mass units).
  • It has a mass excess of -34.833207 MeV(Megaelectronvolts).

Half Life of Iridium-192

The half-life of this isotopic substance is 73.828 days.

Iridium-192


Picture 1 – Iridium-192
Source – en.wikipedia.org

Lifetime of Iridium-192

The lifetime of this radioactive element is 106.51 days.

Decay Modes of Iridium-192

Its decay modes are Beta Particles and Gamma Radiation. It decays 95.13% of the time through negative beta emission to 192Pt (daughter nuclide). For the remaining 4.87% of the time, it decays through electron capture to 192Os. A gamma photon with an average energy of 0.38 MeV (max 1.06 MeV) is released in the process.

Isotopes of Iridium-192

As aforesaid, Iridium-192 is a radioactive iridium isotope. It is also the most common isotope used for high dose rate brachytherapy applications. Once World War II ended, new isotopes such as cobalt-60, caesium-137 and iridium-192 became available for Industrial Radiography. Consequently, the use of radon and radium decreased.

Specific Activity

Its specific activity differs depending on the concentration of 192Ir in the source. For applications of high dose, its specific activity is 2.4×102 TeV/g.

Production of Iridium-192

For commercial use, 192Ir is produced in a nuclear reactor by reaction of 191Ir with neutrons. This technique has numerous benefits. It ensures minimal generation of unwanted isotopes and large cross section of isotopes for interaction of neutrons. As a result, high concentration of 192Ir is produced comparatively easily.

Radiation Safety of Iridium-192

Being a radioactive substance, necessary safeguards must be taken while using it. It should be kept safe in order to avoid accidental exposure or deliberate misuse and disposed following state guidelines. In case of an accidental exposure, victims should remove clothes and discard them permanently. It is important to take showers. Immediate medical help should be sought.

Iridium-192 Applicator

High-dose rate (HDR) Iridium-192 Brachytherapy is often facilitated with the aid of a flexible applicator. It is also used for medical treatment, such as for the cure of stomal recurrence after Tracheostomy is performed for subglottic carcinoma.

Low Dose Supply of Iridium-192

Iridium-192 suppliers render this radioactive element in low doses in wires of 100 – 140 mm in length and 0.3 mm in thickness that can still be cut into smaller pieces as needed. The wires are non-reactive and flexible.

For high dose rate, Platinum/Iridium alloy capsules that are 3.5 mm long and 0.6 mm diameter in size are used. These, used a high 192Ir concentration, provides it with a high activity. The tablet comes coated in Platinum of thickness 1 mm, which weaken the consistency of any electrons produced during decay. The tablet is also welded to the end of a wire allowing it to be deployed using a HDR Remote Afterloading machine.

This radioactive element does not necessarily require sterilizing by end user when deployed for high dose rate (hdr) as it is rendered in a sealed sterilized package.

Uses of Iridium-192

Know about some of the main applications of this radioactive substance.

  • It is a commonly used isotope in high dose rate Brachytherapy.
  • It is also used for medical reasons in Brachytherapy for the treatment of various types of cancer.
  • It also has applications in industrial radiography. It is used to capture x-ray images of heavy metal objects.
  • Radioactive Ir-192 is principally applied for non-destructive testing (NDT). It is also used to a lesser extent as a radio- tracer in the oil industry.

Iridium-192 Implants

Ir-192 implants have medical uses in healthcare industry. These are used for curative reasons, primarily in the breast and the head. These implants are manufactured in wire form and are introduced into the target area through a catheter. The implant wire is removed after being left in place for the time required to deliver the desired dose. This procedure is very effective at providing localized radiation to the tumor site while minimizing the patient’s whole body dose.

Benefits of Iridium-192

There are numerous advantages of using this radioactive element which can be summarized as follows:

  • Its application can be tailored to high or low dose rate, as per requirement.
  • It is relatively easy to manufacture.
  • It has a stable daughter product.
  • It can be reused.

Drawbacks of Iridium-192

Some of the main disadvantages of this element are:

  • Broad spectrum of photons is emitted during the emission process.
  • It involves frequent recalibrations as a consequence of radioactive decay.
  • It needs replacement after every three to four months.

Iridium-192 Cancer Treatment

192Ir is used as a source of gamma radiation for curing cancer with the application of Brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is a type of radiotherapy that involves the placement of a sealed radioactive source inside or adjacent to the region that requires treatment. Specific treatments involve procedures such as:

  • High Dose Rate Prostate Brachytherapy
  • Bilary Duct Brachytherapy
  • Intracavitary Cervix Brachytherapy

Toxicity of Iridium-192

Very little is known regarding the toxicity of iridium compounds. This is due to the fact that they are used in extremely small amounts. However, the radioisotopes of iridium are known to be quite dangerous. The same can be said for 192Ir, which is a radioactive Iridium isotope. Accidental exposure to 192Ir radiation can lead to injuries. High-energy 192Ir gamma radiation can elevate the risk of cancer.

Health Hazards of Iridium-192

External exposure to this substance can lead to problems like

  • Burns
  • Radiation poisoning
  • Acute radiation sickness
  • Death

Internal Iridium-192 exposure can only happen if anyone swallows its tablet or other forms sold commercially. Ingestion of 192Ir can result in burning of the linings of the intestines and the stomach. Swallowed tablets are usually excreted in feces. Long-term effect would depend on how powerful the swallowed contents were and how much duration they stayed in the body. 192Ir as well as other isotopes of Iridium such as 192mIr and 194mIr tend to get deposited in the liver. This can result in health hazards from both gamma and beta radiation.

References:

http://ozradonc.wikidot.com/iridium-192

http://www.wolframalpha.com/entities/isotopes/iridium_192/pd/mq/0j/

http://www.gilligan-engineering.co.uk/Table/Iridium-192/

http://www.isoflex.com/isotopes/ir192.html

Xenon-133

Xenon-133 is a radioactive isotope of Xenon. It is mainly used for imaging the lungs and also for assessing pulmonary function. This radioactive gas was dispersed into nature during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Identification of Xenon-133

CAS Number: 14932-42-4

ChemSpider: 59751

PubChem: 66376

Sources of Xenon-133

It is a fission product of Uranium-235 which means this radioactive gas can be produced by the fission reaction of Uranium-235.

Symbol of Xenon-133

The symbol for this radioactive isotope is 133Xe. It can also be denoted by Xe-133.

Xenon-133 Picture
Xenon-133


Picture 1 – Xenon-133

Properties of Xenon-133

Here are some of the basic properties of this radioactive substance:

Appearance: It is a colorless gas.

Odor: This gas does not have any distinctive odor.

Isotope Mass: The isotope mass of this radioactive isotope is 132.9059107 u (unified atomic mass unit)

Decay Energy: It has a decay energy of 0.427 MeV.

Boiling Point: Its boiling point is -108 °C at 1mm.

Radioactive Decay of Xenon-133

The unstable nucleus of this radioactive gas emits ionizing particles in order to lose energy and reach a stable state. It undergoes Beta decay by radiating Beta Rays (β) with 0.427 MeV decay energy. This radioisotope also emits small amounts of Gamma (γ) rays.

Decay Equation of Xenon-133

Following is the decay equation for the Beta (β) decay of this radioactive isotope:

13354Xe → 0-1β + 13355Cs

Decay Chain of Xenon-133

Xenon-133 decays into Cesium-133 which makes it the daughter nuclide of Xe-133. The decay chain of this radioactive isotope is very short as the next element produced in this decay chain is a stable substance. Here is the decay chain:

Xenon-133 → Cesium-133 (stable)

Nucleus of Xenon-133

There are 79 neutrons and 54 protons in the nucleus of a single isotope of this gas.

Half Life of Xenon-133

This Radioactive gas takes 5.243 days to decay and reduce to the half of its original amount.

Xenon-133 in Human Body

This gas neither occurs naturally in human body nor is it used by the body. This diffusible gas passes through the cell membranes while exchanging between tissue and blood. It has a better solubility in body fats than in blood or plasma. It is also a little soluble in aqueous media. The inhaled Xe-133 crosses the alveolar wall entering the venous circulation via the pulmonary capillary bed. Almost all the Xenon-133 gas will be exhaled after returning to the lungs. The whole process takes a short period of time as this radioactive gas has a biological half life of 5 minutes.

Uses of Xenon-133

The Gamma radiation from this isotope is used by means of inhalation in Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) to image the lungs, heart and brain. It is also used for the measurement of blood flow.

Precautions of Using Xenon-133

It is not advisable to administer this radiopharmaceutical preparation to pregnant women as adequate researches have not yet been done to determine its effects on fertility. It should not be used by people having hypersensitivity to this radioactive agent. Radiopharmaceuticals should be used under proper guidance of physicians who are qualified for safe use of radionuclides.

Brand Name of Xenon-133

Xeneisol is one of the most important brand names for this gas.

Xenon-133 is one of the most useful radioactive isotopes of Xenon. It is highly useful in the field of radiopharmaceuticals with a short half life of little over 5 days.

References:

http://www.idb-holland.com/products/1/13_xe-133_xenon_gas.html

http://www.matpack.de/Info/Nuclear/Nuclids/X/Xe133.html

www.wolframalpha.com/entities/isotopes/xenon_133/2t/e8/8i/

Uranium-238

Uranium-238 is a common radioactive isotope of Uranium. It is not a fissile substance thus cannot sustain nuclear fission. However this isotope is a fertile material, which means other fissile materials are generated from it.

Identification of Uranium-238

CAS Number: 7440-61-1

Sources of Uranium-238

Almost all Uranium in nature is found in the form of Uranium-238. Other isotopes like Uranium 234, Uranium 235 and Uranium 236 are found in smaller quantities in natural Uranium.

Chemical Formula of Uranium-238

The formula for this radioactive isotope is 238U. It is also denoted with U-238.

Uranium-238


Picture 1 – Uranium-238
Source – en.wikipedia.org

Properties of Uranium-238

The radioactive and physical properties of this substance include:

  • Appearance: It is a hard, silver white metal.
  • Molecular Weight: The molecular weight of this radioactive metal is 236.03 gm/mol.
  • Atomic Number: The atomic number of Uranium-238 is 92.
  • Mass Number: Its mass number is 238.02891(3) u (unified atomic mass unit).
  • Density: The density of this material is 18.95 gm/cm3. It has 65% more density compared to Lead.
  • Solubility: It is soluble in Nitric Acid (HNO3) and Hydrochloric Acid (HCl).
  • Melting Point: It has the melting point of 1,132 °C.
  • Boiling Point: The boiling point of this radioactive metal is 3,818 °C.
  • Specific Gravity: Its specific gravity is 9.1 at 25 °C temperature.

Radioactive Decay of Uranium-238

The unstable atomic nucleus of Uranium-238 emits ionizing particles and loses energy in order to achieve a stable state. This process is called the Radioactive decay. This isotope undergoes Alpha decay by emitting Alpha rays. It has a decay energy of 4.267 MeV.

Decay Equation of Uranium-238

Following is the equation for the Alpha (α) radiation of this isotope:

238U → 23490Th + 42He2+

The above equation can also be denoted as

238U → 234Th+ α

In the first equation the 42He (Helium) is similar to an Alpha particle having mass number of 4 and atomic number 2. Due to this reason it has been denoted by an Alpha particle in the second reaction.

Uranium-238 Decay Chain

Thorium-234 is the next radioactive substance in the decay process of Uranium-238. It means Thorium-234 is the daughter nuclide of this isotope. Lead (stable) is the final element of this Alpha decay process. Following is the complete decay series:

Uranium-238 → Thorium-234→ Protactinium-234m→ Uranium-234→ Thorium-230→ Radium-226→ Rodon-222→ Polonium-218→ Lead-214→ Bismuth-214→ Polonium-214→ Lead-210→ Bismuth-210→ Polonium-210→ Lead-205 (stable)

This series is also known as “Radium Series”. All the above elements are present (even if for a short time) in any sample containing Uranium be it metal, mineral or compound.

Nucleus of Uranium-238

One atom of this substance contains 92 protons and 145 neutrons.

Half Life of Uranium-238

Half life is the time period taken by a radioactive substance to decay and reduce to the half of its original amount. Uranium-238 has a very long half life of 4.468 billon years.

Uranium-238 Fission Reaction

This material does not undergo fission unless struck by a high energy neutron. It collides with a neutron and turns into Uranium 239, which undergoes decay and produces Plutonium-239. This final radioactive isotope is highly useful in power plants.

Uranium-238 uses

This radioactive metal has a very long half life. The Depleted Uranium (DU) is very heavy having a high density level. These properties make this substance useful in various industries.

As a Breeder

Fertile uranium-238 isotope is used in Breeder Reactors for its neutron capture ability. It produces fissile products like Plutonium- 239, which is used as a nuclear fuel to produce high amounts of energy. This technology is used in many experimental nuclear reactors.

As a Radiation Shield

It is used as a shield against harmful radiation in the form of Depleted Uranium Dioxide and Depleted Uranium. The non-radioactive casing of the Shield can easily stop its Alpha radiation from causing any harm. The high atomic weight and electron numbers of this material can efficiently absorb Gamma Rays and X Rays. However, it cannot stop fast neutrons having a speed of 14,000 km/s, as effectively as ordinary water.

Researchers are trying to find out whether Uranium Dioxide concretes can be used as a Cask Storage material for storing radioactive waste.

In Radioactive Dating

The radioactive property of a material is applied to determine the age of objects like rocks and fossils. Uranium-238 is used in this dating process. The decay chain of this isotope is well documented with Lead being the final stable element. The whole decay series happens at a constant rate which helps to correctly date rocks and minerals.

In this process, the age of an object is determined by adding the amount of the daughter product (e.g. Thorium) in the object with the amount of the parent isotope (e.g. Uranium).

In Nuclear Weapons

Uranium-238 is used as a “tamper” material in nuclear weapons. Its function is to reduce the required critical mass and make the weapon work more efficiently. It is used in thermonuclear weapons for the purpose of encasing the fusion fuel which helps to make the weapon more powerful.

Downblending

Downnblending is the opposite process of enriching. Enriched Uranium is downblended with the help of depleted Uranium for using it as commercial nuclear fuel. It is used to produce Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) along with Plutonium- 239.

Is Uranium-238 Harmful for Human Health?

Radioactive Uranium can be found in nature which can cause health problems for humans. It can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion and sometimes through open wounds. However, it cannot harm an organism from the outside as its Alpha radiation does not penetrate the skin.

Most of the Uranium-238 ingested or inhaled usually leaves the body. But a very small amount gets accumulated in the bones. It remains there undergoing radioactive decay for a very long time. This radiation can cause adverse health effects like kidney damage and cancer.

Commercial Supply of Uranium-238

There are many companies who supply this material in different parts of the world.

Uranium-238 is the main radioactive isotope of natural Uranium. It produces many other useful radioactive elements while undergoing decay. This makes this radioactive metal quite useful and valuable.

References:

http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/uranium+238

http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/uranium.html#properties

http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/doc/natural-decay-series.pdf

http://www.reade.com/products/16-elements-inorganic-powder-sheet-wire/812-uranium-metal-u-depleted-uranium-u3o8-radioactive-depleted-uranium-u3o8-du-cas-7440-61-1-cas-1344-58-7-

http://www.nucleartourist.com/basics/basic.htm

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