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8.01H Half-Life and Radioactive Decay

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Summer Turner

on 10 January 2013

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Transcript of 8.01H Half-Life and Radioactive Decay

8.01H Half-Life and Radioactive Decay By: Summer Turner Uranium Uranium, named after the planet Uranus, was apparently formed in supernova about 6.6 billion years ago. Today its slow radioactive decay provides the main source of heat inside the Earth which causes convection and continental drift. Uranium is a heavy metal that can be used as an abundant source of concentrated energy. It is usually found in rocks with the concentration of 2 to 4 parts per milliliter and is common in the Earth's crust. It also occurs in seawater which carries to oceans. Radioactive uranium-238 goes through alpha decay, making an alpha particle and leaving an atom of thorium-234. No harmful effects of natural levels have been detected but exposure to uranium that is formed during radioactive decay for a long lengths of time can develop cancer and kidney disease. Most are safe except those who live near uranium mining areas, government weapons facilities, or certain industrial facilities may have increased exposure like if their water is from a private well. There are many applications of uranium like bullets, missiles, and fertilizers. The main application is the use in commercial nuclear power plants. Iodine-131 Iodine-131 is used in the medical field for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. As medicine, it is put into a capsule that is swallowed one or more time and quickly taken up by the thyroid gland where the radiation reduces the size of the gland. The human body then eliminates the iodine once it has served its purpose. What is not taken up by your thyroid is eleminated through body fluids such as urine, feces, saliva, and perspiration. The negative side is that for these days whatever the patient touches could become contaminated with radioactive iodine. In a clinical setting, special precautions are taken like having a separate room where the floor is lined with paper for easier clean up. After a week or so the treatment should be done and no harmful side-affects should be present. There has been links in waterways around the world where the waste is flushed into the sewer system. Iodine-131 has a short radioactive half-life of 8 days so it does not stay in the environment for long. The End.
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