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Thread: chemistry changes due to radioactive decay

  1. #1 chemistry changes due to radioactive decay 
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    I have a question but I'm not sure if this a question for the physics board but here goes anyway.

    During radioactive decay an element can transform into another element. Seeing as most radioactive substances would be compounds anyway then would this not affect the chemistry of the compound?
    An example might be radioactive caesium chloride. Would this not change by beta decay to Barium chloride and if so where would the extra chlorine atoms come from?

    Eg. CsCl changing to BaCl2.

    Another example might be Radium chloride decaying to Radon. Seeing as Radon is a noble gas then we would not expect to see the existence of Radon Chloride so does that mean that Radium chloride over a period of time slowly leaks chlorine gas or does something else happen?

    My real question is what happens to the chemistry of radioactive compounds as they decay? I've so far not been able to find the answer to these questions. Everything I've read about isotopes, radioactive decay, fission etc. seems to ignore this.


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    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Yes, radioactive decay can slightly change the composition of a compound. In the case of the caesium chloride, my guess is some of the barium (half of it actually) will not form ions, and will be present as an element untill it reacts with something else (Very quickly!)


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    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Yes, radioactive decay can slightly change the composition of a compound. In the case of the caesium chloride, my guess is some of the barium (half of it actually) will not form ions, and will be present as an element untill it reacts with something else (Very quickly!)
    Thanks. It doesn't answer my question conclusively but it's a pointer in the right direction.
    What prompted me to ask this question was reading about the Goiana incident in Brazil in the 1980's where a number of people were poisoned by a radioactive source of Caesium-137 (stolen from a disused hospital) which unfortunately led to a few deaths.
    I'm not sure what form the Caesium was in but you can be pretty sure that it was not elemental Caesium as there is no point using an extremely reactive (and expensive) pure alkali metal as an economical radiation source.
    This made me think about whether there were any other toxicological implications and whether chemistry may play a part in the safety precautions of handling radioisotopes. As I've already said, I can't find to seem this sort of information anywhere and not being a nuclear chemist nor an expert on radiochemistry it's not the sort of thing that I have really thought about much before.
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    Quote Originally Posted by octopass
    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Yes, radioactive decay can slightly change the composition of a compound. In the case of the caesium chloride, my guess is some of the barium (half of it actually) will not form ions, and will be present as an element untill it reacts with something else (Very quickly!)
    Thanks. It doesn't answer my question conclusively but it's a pointer in the right direction.
    What prompted me to ask this question was reading about the Goiana incident in Brazil in the 1980's where a number of people were poisoned by a radioactive source of Caesium-137 (stolen from a disused hospital) which unfortunately led to a few deaths.
    I'm not sure what form the Caesium was in but you can be pretty sure that it was not elemental Caesium as there is no point using an extremely reactive (and expensive) pure alkali metal as an economical radiation source.
    This made me think about whether there were any other toxicological implications and whether chemistry may play a part in the safety precautions of handling radioisotopes. As I've already said, I can't find to seem this sort of information anywhere and not being a nuclear chemist nor an expert on radiochemistry it's not the sort of thing that I have really thought about much before.

    I read that one line you wrote,

    "I can't find to seem this sort of information anywhere and not being a nuclear chemist nor an expert on radiochemistry it's not the sort of thing that I have really thought about much before".

    It made perfect sense to me. Then when, I reread it, I saw there was something different. Ha-ha. It matched the order of my day so perfectly, it made perfect sense to me.

    From working with Thoriated Tungsten my whole life. I have found that it becomes highly radioactive if allowed to oxidize. The same is true of radium, and Uranium.

    This has a two fold effect on a human that consumes these substances. One they are more radio active, and can cause more damage to the body. Even creating new substances.
    In the body these materials will absorb oxygen, basically oxidize, until it is a super lethal poison. As most of the substances that are made of radio active metals and oxygen are.

    It is really the same as any other metal. Except the body has a bit more trouble expelling these large metals. And sometimes as much as sixteen, eighteen or twenty oxygen atoms to a single Uranium atom.

    Testing I did with my Geiger counter, showed that old Thoriated tungsten not kept dry, and allowed to oxidize, just slightly, was as much as ten times more radio active then fresh Thoriated tungsten. Of same brand.



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    William McCormick
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  6. #5  
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    Blaytant BS.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    Blaytant BS.
    Indeed.

    And this from the same person who does not believe in either alpha or beta decay.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    Well, going along the same sort of theme, here's one I thought of.

    Radon gas, although not exactly the most radioactive substance known to man, it is a gas at room temperature unlike your friendly lump of uranium that just sits there daring you to touch it, eat it or breathe in it's dust.
    Radon is instantly breathable and being very dense is difficult to expel from the lungs.
    Once in your lungs it's changing into ever so microsopic quantities of another element (polonium I think, without bothering to work it out).
    This new element of course is solid, not a gas and being reactive is going to form a compound, so now in your lungs, you're getting a build up of some sort of radioactive tar as well.
    If you want to give yourself lung cancer you don't even have to light up a cigarette and no combustion is needed. Just breathe in radon and you've got the carcinogens, the tar and probably a heavy metal poison all in one dose!
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    Blaytant BS.

    I am assuming you are replying to me. Your response came after mine.

    I am curious if you believe that slightly tarnished Thoriated Tungsten is much more radio active then fresh untarnished Thoriated tungsten?

    Is that what you do not believe?

    Rather then to bait you into saying "yes". I will tell you that actual testing showed the older packets of Tungsten, that had been exposed to moist basement air during storage. Were ten times more radio active then, the Thoriated tungsten fresh in the packet.

    Old radium is so radio active most would not believe it. It is outrageously radio active.

    Uranium as well.

    We use Thoriated Tungsten because during welding operations at very high temperatures that a Tungsten can reach. We can create radio active substances in the plasma or ARC of the Tungsten electrode.

    Daily we apply 18,000 watts to an area no larger then a pea. From a needle sharp Tungsten. With all that power in one place. The tungsten gets white like the sun.
    Reactions can take place. That is why we use very purified noble gases to shield the tungsten. As times get hard, safety goes out the window.

    Equipment gets old and run down. Contaminants get into the equipment and supplies. Next thing you know, someone creates a room full of poison gas.

    The Thoriated Tungsten creates the most poison with effects that are noticeable immediately. The short lived substance is known to create rays that can breakdown other dangerous elements like Uranium and radium.

    That is why it was used as a cure for some years. You have to be careful though because if you take it in regularly it can be just as bad or worse then the other elements. However it was found to cause the least amount of trouble amongst all the different types of tungsten we use.





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    William McCormick
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    Blaytant BS.

    I am assuming you are replying to me. Your response came after mine.

    I am curious if you believe that slightly tarnished Thoriated Tungsten is much more radio active then fresh untarnished Thoriated tungsten?

    Is that what you do not believe?

    Rather then to bait you into saying "yes". I will tell you that actual testing showed the older packets of Tungsten, that had been exposed to moist basement air during storage. Were ten times more radio active then, the Thoriated tungsten fresh in the packet.

    Old radium is so radio active most would not believe it. It is outrageously radio active.

    Uranium as well.
    This is because many radioactive substances decay into elements which are themselves radioactive. In this case, I suspect the element the tungsten/radium decays into has a shorter half life, and the elements after it in a series, too. As more of the original material, with a long half-life, decays, much more short half-life material is created, hence the increase in radiation.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    We use Thoriated Tungsten because during welding operations at very high temperatures that a Tungsten can reach. We can create radio active substances in the plasma or ARC of the Tungsten electrode.

    Daily we apply 18,000 watts to an area no larger then a pea. From a needle sharp Tungsten. With all that power in one place. The tungsten gets white like the sun.
    Reactions can take place. That is why we use very purified noble gases to shield the tungsten. As times get hard, safety goes out the window.
    is this 18,000W or 18,000J? hehe
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    This is because many radioactive substances decay into elements which are themselves radioactive. In this case, I suspect the element the tungsten/radium decays into has a shorter half life, and the elements after it in a series, too. As more of the original material, with a long half-life, decays, much more short half-life material is created, hence the increase in radiation.

    No one had ever shown that there are other radio active elements. Other then some unclassified elements/compounds. That may not even be other elements.

    You missed the great debates about, what was or was not an element. According to the scientific method, of purifying an element.

    World War Two opened up the door for all kinds of poor science.

    We assume that a Thoriated Tungsten rod contains Thorium. Because Thorium was never really isolated to the proper standards. But lets assume it is Thorium.

    To further assume that it dropped or fission reacted down to another substance, or fusion reacted up to another substance is a rather large assumption. Without doing some research into what it became.

    We know Isotopes love oxygen. So it will be bonding with oxygen. We know that oxygenating Uranium makes it radio active.

    We know that oxygenating Thorium also makes it more radio active. We also know that the addition of oxygen makes the half life value of Thorium not applicable. Because it has combined to form a different substance.

    Some radio active isotopes, last longer with some number of oxygen atoms. Often a worse scenario then an isotope that combines with oxygen and emits more radiation and self destructs.

    I believe that is the beauty of Thorium, it was stated to self destruct in a short period of time.

    If Uranium picks up Oxygen, and still lasts a thousand years emitting high levels of radiation, that is a bad thing in the body.




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    William McCormick
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    Years ago using certain processes they were able to remove almost all the oxygen from Uranium.

    And they found that they had a substance very similar to lead. With almost no radiation output. Until it was allowed to tarnish.


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    William McCormick
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    This is because many radioactive substances decay into elements which are themselves radioactive. In this case, I suspect the element the tungsten/radium decays into has a shorter half life, and the elements after it in a series, too. As more of the original material, with a long half-life, decays, much more short half-life material is created, hence the increase in radiation.

    No one had ever shown that there are other radio active elements. Other then some unclassified elements/compounds. That may not even be other elements.
    All elements become radioactive if you have the right isotopes.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    You missed the great debates about, what was or was not an element. According to the scientific method, of purifying an element.
    Elements can be identified by mass compared to electron configuration. This is how the modern periodic table was created.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    World War Two opened up the door for all kinds of poor science.
    you, typing on your computer, don't seem to be suffering from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    We assume that a Thoriated Tungsten rod contains Thorium. Because Thorium was never really isolated to the proper standards. But lets assume it is Thorium.
    Yes, we can safely assume thorium contains thorium.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    To further assume that it dropped or fission reacted down to another substance, or fusion reacted up to another substance is a rather large assumption. Without doing some research into what it became.
    Were we talking about fission and fusion reactions? I though we were talking about radioactive decay. Fission won't be detected by your guiger counter.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    We know Isotopes love oxygen.
    We do? Does this include isotopes of oxygen? Does changing the isotope change the chemical properties of a substance?

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    So it will be bonding with oxygen. We know that oxygenating Uranium makes it radio active.
    Again, do we? I thought its inherant radioactivity made it radioactive.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    We know that oxygenating Thorium also makes it more radio active. We also know that the addition of oxygen makes the half life value of Thorium not applicable. Because it has combined to form a different substance.
    The original nuclei still exist... Please read by signature, then research radioactive decay. It has nothing to do with chemical properties.

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    Some radio active isotopes, last longer with some number of oxygen atoms. Often a worse scenario then an isotope that combines with oxygen and emits more radiation and self destructs.
    ?????

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    I believe that is the beauty of Thorium, it was stated to self destruct in a short period of time.
    ?????

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick
    If Uranium picks up Oxygen, and still lasts a thousand years emitting high levels of radiation, that is a bad thing in the body.
    Please research radioactive decay before further embarrasing yourself.

    It involves changes in the nucleus, either in the form of loss of a helium nuclei or the change of a neutron into a proton, or vice versa. Lepton number is conserved in these, and in fact all, interactions.

    Lastly, why is it you don't believe neutrons exist, but you talk about isotopes, which by their definition are elements with different numbers of neutrons?

    You try to pick the accepted models apart, but you keep contradicting yourself by inadvertantly using them to explain something. It just appears you don't really know what you're talking about.
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  14. #13 Radioactivity 
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    Hi everyone, I thought I would add to the debate. The addition of oxygen cannot make the Th more radioactive, nor does it make U more radioactive.

    The observation may be a function of time. With time oxidisation may increase, and the radioactive decay of Th into its decay products (Ra, Ac, Rn, Pb, Po, Bi, Tl) will increase, and so will the measured radioactivity signal, as a consequence of the increased gamma, alpha, and beta radiation produced.

    As these decay products are formed, the original chemical compounds will change. Ra to Rn is a good example, the Rn is a noble gas and can be released from the matrix material in a pure form. It is fundamentally different to the Ra compound it might have been formed from.

    With regard to health effects, it is the radiotoxicology that is normally most important, as the mass amounts of a radionuclide are usually very small, but at small levels, the radiation emitted can be very significant.
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  15. #14  
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    jlbscience, that thread was very old, and there's a reason that WM was banned. Thank you for contributing, but when it comes to dead threads like this...they're dead for a reason.
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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