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Cobalt: Radionuclides

  1. Enrique Lima

Published Online: 15 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia730

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Lima, E. 2010. Cobalt: Radionuclides. Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F., Mexico

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUN 2010


Radionulcides of cobalt are generated through nuclear reactions from other stables isotopes. The most common radionuclide of cobalt is 60Co, which is generated in nuclear power plants. Medical equipment is also a minor source of radioactive cobalt. Important applications of 60Co in the field of medicine, biology, and food are possible because of the powerful emitted γ-rays (1.17 and 1.33 MeV). However, this kind of radiation may be very dangerous to human beings; serious cellular damage can occur if exposed directly to doses as high as 1000 rad. Thus, discharges of radioactive cobalt to the environment should be minimized, but accidental releases have occurred. The chemical behavior of cobalt in aqueous media is a determinant for the stabilization of cobalt in polluted effluents. Water and soil in several regions in the world are contaminated. The chemical complexity of seawater and soil makes it difficult to remediate 60Co. The chemical media determine the stabilization and rate of transport through marine media and soil. Several strategies have been designed to remediate water and soil polluted with cobalt radionuclides. This article describes some of the common uses of cobalt as well as some problems associated with cobalt radionuclides.


  • cobalt;
  • radioactive;
  • γ-irradiation;
  • chemical reactions;
  • ionic exchange