Published Online: 15 DEC 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved.
Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry
How to Cite
Alam, L. and Rahim Mohamed, C. A. 2011. Polonium: Radionuclides. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. .
- Published Online: 15 DEC 2011
All polonium isotopes are radioactive with only three having appreciable half-lives: 208Po, 209Po, and 210Po. It is a highly toxic element and is a health hazard if taken into the body. Polonium is a naturally occurring radionuclide and is present in the environment and in people at very low concentrations. Polonium concentrations in the environment can vary by orders of magnitude. 210Po concentration in soil varies according to soil strata, depth, sedimentation and biological processes, fertilization and pH. Incomplete burning of fuels of coal loading plays an important role in the concentration of 210Po in air. Usually, the activity concentration of 210Po in surface air is low. Polonium can be separated by irradiating stable bismuth-209 with thermal neutrons resulting in the formation of radioactive 210Bi, which decays into 210Po.