TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR PLUTONIUM , Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine/Applied Toxicology Branch,  Atlanta, Georgia TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR PLUTONIUM   WHAT IS PLUTONIUM?  Radioactive metal Plutonium is a radioactive element. Pure plutonium is a silvery-white metal. Most plutonium is found combined with other substances, for example, plutonium dioxide (plutonium with oxygen) or plutonium nitrate (plutonium with nitrogen and oxygen). Plutonium is usually measured in terms of its radioactivity (curies or becquerels). Both the curie (Ci) and the becquerel (Bq) tell us how much a radioactive material decays every second. Exists in various forms called isotopes The most common plutonium isotope is plutonium-239. Plutonium is not stable Each radioactive isotope of an element constantly gives off radiation, which changes it into an isotope of a different element or a different isotope of the same element. This process is called radioactive decay. Plutonium-238 and plutonium-239 give off alpha particles (sometimes referred to as alpha radiation) and transform into uranium-234 and uranium-235, respectively. The half-life is the time it takes for half of the atoms of a radionuclide to undergo radioactive decay and change it into a different isotope. The halflife of plutonium-238 is 87.7 years. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years. The half-life of plutonium-240 is 6,560 years. Produced in Very small amounts of plutonium occur naturally. Plutonium-239 and nuclear power plutonium-240 are formed in nuclear power plants when uranium-238 plants and used captures neutrons. Plutonium is used to produce nuclear weapons. in nuclear weapons and Plutonium-238 is used as a heat source in nuclear batteries to produce batteries electricity in devices such as unmanned spacecraft and interplanetary probes.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PLUTONIUM WHEN IT ENTERS THE ENVIRONMENT? Released during testing of nuclear weapons Plutonium released during atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, which ended in 1980, is the source of most of the plutonium in the environment worldwide. The plutonium released during these tests was deposited on land and water. The small amount that remains in the atmosphere continues to be deposited as it slowly settles out.
 Plutonium is also released to the environment from research facilities, waste disposal, nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, nuclear weapons production facilities, and accidents at facilities where plutonium is used.
  HOW CAN PLUTONIUM ENTER AND LEAVE MY BODY? Plutonium can When you breathe air that contains plutonium, some of it will get trapped in enter your body your lungs. Some of the trapped plutonium will move to other parts of your when it is inhaled body, mainly your bones and liver. The amount of plutonium that stays in or swallowed your lungs depends on the solubility of the plutonium that is in the air you breathe. A small amount of the plutonium you swallow (much less than 1%) will enter other parts of your body (mainly your bones and liver). If plutonium gets onto your healthy skin, very little, if any, plutonium will enter your body. More plutonium will enter your body if gets onto injured skin, such as a cut or burn. Plutonium in your Plutonium leaves your body very slowly in the urine and feces. If plutonium body will remain were to enter your lungs today, much of the plutonium would still be in your there for many body 30–50 years later. years ..……

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    Plutonium | Nuclear Information

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