Agent Name

Polonium

CAS Number

7440-08-6

Formula

Po

Major Category

Physical/Radiation

Category

Radionuclides

Description

All isotopes are radioactive; Resembles tellurium and bismuth chemically; Melting point = 254 degrees C. [Merck Index # 7561]

Sources/Uses

Occurs naturally as decay product of uranium-238 (0.1 mg of Po-210 per ton of uranium ore); Used in static eliminators to remove static electricity from machinery and dust from photographic film and camera lenses; Used with beryllium as a neutron source; [Argonne] Tobacco smoke contains Polonium-210 and lead-210. Smoking 1.5 packs of cigarettes per day delivers about 16,000 mrems/year to the lungs. [ATSDR Case Studies: Ionizing Radiation]

Comments

Most Important Radionuclide: Polonium-210 Source: Bombard bismuth-209 with neutrons in nuclear reactor; then beta decay of Bi-210; Half-Life: 138 days Effective Half-Life: 46 days Specific Activity: 4500 Ci/gm Decay Mode: Alpha GI Absorption: 10-50% Lung Clearance Half-Time: Weeks for oxides, hydroxides, and nitrates; Days for all other compounds; Critical Organ: Spleen Internal Toxicity: Very High Annual Limit on Intake: 0.0006 mCi Radiation Energy (MeV): Alpha 5.305 (100%) + daughters; Reported Major Radiation Accidents: One homicide from acute radiation poisoning and several possible exposures after the Millennium Hotel Pine Bar in London, UK was contaminated on October 31, November 1, or November 2, 2006. [www.bt.cdc.gov] Two people had significant exposures in 1961; [See Glossary for references.] See "Radiation, ionizing."

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