Sunday, March 27, 2011

ENERGY: Get to know your neighbourhood radionuclides.

Electron shell 094 PlutoniumImage via Wikipedia

Commonly Encountered Radionuclides

Approximately 2,300 nuclides have been identified; most of them are radioactive.

Which nuclides are radioactive?

Unstable nuclides of any element can exist. However, almost all elements that are heavier than bismuth, which has 83 protons, have an unstable nucleus; they are radioactive and are known as "heavy nuclides." Nuclides with fewer than 83 protons are known as "light nuclides."
While there are hundreds of radionuclides, many of them are rarely encountered. People are much more likely to encounter a few that are used routinely for medical, military, or commercial purposes. The list below and accompanying fact sheets discuss twelve radionuclides. They are the ones most commonly used and most commonly found in Superfund Sites.
Please note: Where an element is listed rather than an individual radionuclide, the element has several radioactive isotopes of interest:
Fact Sheets on Commonly Encountered Radionuclides
 Radiation Type
NameAtomic NumberAlphaBetaGamma
americium-24195Americium is primarily an alpha particle emitter. It also emits some gamma rays. Americium primarily emits alpha particles, but also emits some gamma rays.
cesium-13755 Cesium-137 is a beta particle emitter.Cesium-137 is a gamma emitter.
cobalt-6027 Cobalt-60 is a beta particle emitter.Cobalt-60 is a gamma emitter.
iodine-129 &-131 53 Iodine-129 and -131 are beta particle emittersIodine-129 and -131 are gamma ray emitters
plutonium94Most plutonium isotopes are alpha particle emitters; some emit other forms of radiation.Most plutonium isotopes are alpha particle emitters; some emit other forms of radiation.Most plutonium isotopes are alpha particle emitters; some emit other forms of radiation.
radium88Radium isotopes are alpha particle emitters. Radium isotopes are also gamma ray emitters.
radon86The isotopes of radon are alpha particle emitters.  
strontium-9038 Strontium-90 is a beta particle emitter.  
technetium-9943 Technitium-99 is a beta particle emitter. Technitium-99m  is a gamma emitter.
tritium * 1 Tritium is a beta particle emitter.  
thorium90Thorium emits alpha particles with gamma rays Thorium emits alpha particles with gamma rays
uranium92Uranium is an alpha particle emitter. Uranium is a gamma ray emitter.
* tritium is a specific isotope, H-3.

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