Keyword Analysis & Research: plutonium

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What is plutonium and why is it dangerous?

Plutonium predominantly emits alpha particles – a type of radiation that is easily stopped and has a short range. It also emits neutrons, beta particles and gamma rays. It is considered toxic, in part, because if it were to be inhaled it could deposit in the lungs and eventually cause damage.

Why is plutonium more dangerous than uranium?

Plutonium is more intensely radioactive than uranium because of the differences in the half-lives: 22,000 years vs 4.5 billion years, making plutonium about 4.5 orders of magnitude more intense. Yet neither is considered a real hazard outside the body, because both emit alpha particles.

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