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Plutonium (symbol: Pu) is a transuranic chemical element with the atomic number 94[1]. All isotopes are alpha emitters. In nature Plutonium usually can't be found - or only in traces.[2]

Plutonium is one of the most toxic substances. So far it was released with the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and by several nuclear accidents like Mayak and Chernobyl. The above-ground nuclear weapons tests spread 4 t of plutonium worldwide. After a release particle of it can be incorporated with dust, water and food.[2]

It accumulates in bone marrow and liver. Inhalation leads to lung cancer. The incorporation of as less as a few thousandth gram causes lethal radiation injuries.[2]

Plutonium also is highly toxic as a heavy metal, and particularly harmful for the kidneys.[2]


It has a half-life of 87.7 years.[2]


It has a half-life of 24,110 years, while the biological half-life is 100 years in bones and 40 years in liver. Many people living close to nuclear weapons factories had been contaminated by plutonium-239.[2]


It has a half-life of 6,564 years.[2]

  1. as at February 22, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 ippnw factsheet: Radioactive Stoffe machen krank. A-Z von radioaktiven Isotopen, die beim Atomunfall freigesetzt werden; March 2011

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