Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins

2013 Edition
| Editors: Robert H. Kretsinger, Vladimir N. Uversky, Eugene A. Permyakov

Polonium in Terrestrial Environment

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-1533-6_430



The element polonium has atomic number 84 and is located in the fifth period of the periodic system: O-S-Se-Te-Po. Its chemical properties have some similarities to its closest neighbors which are tellurium (Te) above and bismuth (Bi) to the left. Pierre and Marie Curie used the similarity to Bi in the separation process they used (July 1898) in their discovery of polonium. The most widely available isotope of polonium in the terrestrial environment is 210Po which is the final radioactive decay product in the natural uranium-238 decay series. Polonium-210 decays with a half-life of 138.4 days emitting α-particles (100% 5.29 MeV; 0.00122% 4.52 MeV) and single gamma rays (0.803 MeV) with very low abundance (1.23 × 10−5). Other long-lived polonium isotopes are the artificially produced 208Po (2.898 y) and 209Po (102 y) which both decay through α-decays 5.11 and 4.88 MeV,...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Radiation PhysicsLund UniversityLundSweden