Caesium-137

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    In News

    • Recently an eight-millimetre capsule has been recovered in Western Australia which was lost earlier. 
      • It contained radioactive Caesium-137 which was released during the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters.

    About Caesium

    • Caesium is a soft, flexible, silvery-white metal that can easily form bonds with chlorides to create a crystalline powder.
    • There is only one stable form of cesium naturally present in the environment, 133Cs (read as cesium one-thirty-three).
    • Nuclear explosions or the breakdown of uranium in fuel elements can produce two radioactive forms of cesium, 134Cs and 137Cs. Both isotopes decay into non-radioactive elements. 
    • Caesium-137 is the most common radioactive form of caesium which produces beta and gamma radiation, both of which are harmful to humans.

    Health and Environment Concers

    • Health
      • Caesium-137 can cause serious illness when touched, leading to burns and acute radiation sickness.
      • External exposure of Caesium-137 can increase the risk of cancer because of the presence of high-energy gamma radiation. Prolonged exposure can even cause death.
      • Internal exposure to it through ingestion or inhalation allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue.
    • Environment
      • Cesium in air can travel long distances before settling to the ground or water. Most cesium compounds dissolve in water.
      • Cesium binds strongly to moist soils and does not travel far below the surface of the soil, most cesium compounds are very soluble.

                                                                    Radioactivity

    Radioactivity is the phenomenon of the spontaneous disintegration of unstable atomic nuclei to atomic nuclei to form more energetically stable atomic nuclei. Radioactive decay is a highly exoergic, statistically random, first-order process that occurs with a small amount of mass being converted to energy.

    Source: IE