Americium . Chemical element, symbol Am , atomic number 95.
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- 1 Discovery
- 2 Effects of Americium on health
- 3 Environmental effects of Americium
- 4 Sources
In 1944 Glenn Theodore Seaborg and his colleagues at the University of Chicago obtained 241Am by bombarding 238Pu with alpha particles and a year later by bombarding 239Pu with neutrons and further purifying it.
Named after America , Americium was the fourth synthesized transuranic element.
The isotope 241Am is an emitter of Alpha particles , with an average life of 433 years. The other isotopes of americium include mass 232 through 247, but only the isotopes of masses 241 and 243 are important. The 241Am isotope is commonly prepared from Plutonium and sold for various industrial uses, including as a source of 59 KeV Gamma radiation and as a component in Neutron sources .
The longer-lived 243Am (half-life 7400 years) is a precursor in the production of 244Cm.
In its most important Oxidation state in aqueous solution, 3+, Americium closely resembles trippositive Rare Earths. The formal analogy with them is also noted in the anhydrous compounds of americium, both trippositive and tetrapositive. The difference is that americium can be oxidized from Am3 + to the 5+ and 6+ states.
The metallic americium has a vapor pressure much higher than that of the neighboring elements, so it can be purified by distillation . The metal is not magnetic and is superconducting at 0.79 K. At high pressure , it compresses up to 80% of its volume at room temperature and shows the structure of uranium.
Health effects of Americium
Americium is a compound that occurs in nature in very low levels. It can be added during an accidental leak in Nuclear production plants . Humans can be exposed to higher concentrations of Americium through food, respiration or skin contact, due to the release of Americium during Nuclear production and nuclear accidents. People who work in or live near nuclear power plants may be exposed to higher levels of americium.
The radiation from exposure to americium is the leading cause of health effects caused by absorbed americium. Americium moves rapidly through the body after it is taken and is concentrated in the bones over a long period of time. During this storage the americium will slowly disintegrate and release radioactive particles and rays . These rays can cause alteration of genetic material and bone cancer .
Organ damage from exposure to americium is very unlikely in humans, because americium accumulates in organs for only a short period of time .
Environmental effects of Americium
Americium is mainly made up of only radioactive isotopes created by men. These can be present in soil and water in very small amounts as a result of nuclear weapons tests prior to their prohibition in 1963 . Americium from atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons can remain in the atmosphere for decades traveling around the world and slowly settling on Earth. Its isotopes disintegrate very slowly in the environment and as a result can harm plants and animals.
When animals are exposed to extreme levels of americium, the results can be damage to organs such as the lungs , liver, and thyroid .
Americium that is present in soils can end up on plants, but only in small amounts. Americium particles are normally stored in parts of plants that animals do not consume. Very little americium is stored in fish in their meat or other edible parts and as a result it will not accumulate in the food chain.