Most plutonium in the environment is in the form of microscopic particles that are the remnants of nuclear weapons testing and nuclear reactor accidents. When mixed in soil on the ground, these plutonium isotopes pose a potential risk that is predominantly from inhalation and ingestion. Plutonium-238, plutonium-239, and plutonium-240 are alpha emitters. The different isotopes have different “half-lives” – the time it takes to lose half of its radioactivity. There is a fairly high probability that an incident neutron would be captured to form uranium 239 instead of causing a fission. The Demon Core, a pure metallic plutonium sphere 89.1 mm in diameter, mass 6.2 kg, killed two people — Louis Slotin and Harry Daghlian — in two separate supercriticality accidents. Half Life - The half lives of the various plutonium isotopes are as follows: 238 239 4 240 3 241 Pu = 87.74 y; Pu = 2.41 X 10 y; Pu = 6.56 X 10 y; Pu = 14.29 y; Apart plutonium-241, these isotopes are alpha emitters. However, uranium 235 has a high fission probability. But the radioactivity per unit weight varies according to the isotope. It is produced when uranium absorbs an atomic particle. Plutonium is a silvery-gray metal that becomes yellowish when exposed to air. A tiny amount taken into the body is enough to kill a human. Plutonium is a silvery-white radioactive metal that exists as a solid under normal conditions. Their radiation causes DNA damage in tissue, which then boosts the risk of […] Other plutonium isotopes that emit alpha radiation, like plutonium-238, have similar health effects as plutonium-239, when considered per unit of radioactivity. As a result, the potential for direct exposure from these isotopes is minimal. The most common plutonium isotopes are plutonium-238 … Plutonium-241 decays, by emitting a low-energy beta electron, to Americium-241, whose half-life of 430 years is much longer. Small amounts of plutonium occur naturally, but large amounts have been produced by man in nuclear reactors. These four radionuclides have radioactive periods or half-lives ranging from 14.1 to 24,000 years. How ever heavy metals get stored in the liver and never get passed through your digestive system so once you eat plutonium you get poisioned as … Apart from dangerous radiation, Plutonium-238's decay produces a lot of heat, and does so for a long time—centuries, in fact. Firstly you are incorrect if you think plutonium - 238 is safe when its out side the body - its not and its radio active. What are the weaknesses of plutonium? (i) Plutonium-238 is unlikely to cause any harm if it is outside the body but is likely to kill if it is inside the body. These are all "fissionable" – the atom's nucleus can easily split apart if it is struck by a neutron. Plutonium-238 is an alpha-emitting isotope that emits a negligible amount of gamma rays; it can be manufactured to harness its heat of radioactive decay to operate thermoelectric and thermionic devices that are small, lightweight, and long-lived (the half-life of plutonium-238 is 87.7 years). There are five "common" isotopes of plutonium, Pu-238, Pu-239, Pu-240, Pu-241, and Pu-242. Why Uranium and Plutonium? (d) Plutonium-238 is highly dangerous. The most abundant isotopes are the 238, 239, 240 and 241. Because it emits alpha particles, plutonium is most dangerous when inhaled. For instance, plutonium-238 is about 270 times more radioactive than plutonium-239 per unit of weight. Plutonium can be found in the environment in several forms called isotopes. Scientists knew that the most common isotope, uranium 238, was not suitable for a nuclear weapon. Where they are highly dangerous is if they are inhaled. How can it hurt me? 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