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Environment

Cesium: Radioactive Cesium & Nuclear Disasters in Japan & Chernobyl

7 years, 6 months ago

3383  0
Posted on Mar 19, 2012, 7 a.m.

Element Name: Cesium

Symbol: Cs

Atomic Number: 55

Atomic Weight: 132.9054519

Element Category: Alkali metal

Element Name: Cesium

Symbol: Cs

Atomic Number: 55

Atomic Weight: 132.9054519

Element Category: Alkali metal

 

General Description:

Cesium (caesium) is a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal with a melting point of 28°C (82 F), which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at (or near) room temperature. Cesium is an alkali metal, and is extremely reactive and pyrophoric, reacting with water even at −116C (−177°F). It is the least electronegative element having a stable isotope, cesium-133.

Effects on Human Body:

While the general public is rare to encounter cesium, exposure to cesium compounds can be toxic. The cesium isotopes 134 (Cs-134) and 137 (Cs-137), present in the biosphere in small amounts from radiation leaks, represent a radioactivity burden which varies depending on location. Acute and subsequent chronic, long-term proximal exposure to both Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 associate with increased cancer risks:

 

Exposure to Cs-134 and Cs-137 also raise neonatal and infant health risks:

 

On March 31, 2011, March 11, 2011, a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake & tsunami in Japan caused several nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to fail. In the first 100 hours after the earthquake an estimated 520 tons of radioactive water leaked into the sea — including 940 Terabequerels (TBq) of Cs-134 and 940 TBq of Cs-137.

Radioactive cesium can accumulate in plant tissues, including fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms, potentially compromising the food supply. On Day 9 after the Fukushima accident:

Milk and spinach from farms near the plant tested at radiation levels that exceed Japanese standards

Tap water in Fukushima measured for excessive levels of radioactive iodine

Radioactive iodine and cesium-137 were detected in water supplies as far away as Tokyo (238 km [148 miles])

 

On Day 9 after the Fukushima accident, the Fukushima nuclear plume “covered most of North America,” and reached mainland Europe by Day 13:

 

Accumulation of cesium-137 is a concern after nuclear disasters including Fukushima (Japan) and Chernobyl (Ukraine):

 

From the late 1940s to late 1950s, nuclear weapons testing was conducted at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls, subjecting the residents of the Marshall Islands at increased acute and chronic intakes of major dose-contributing radionuclides. The health-related fallout consequences are now being revealed:, as internal radiation absorbed doses to the tissues most at risk to cancer induction (red bone marrow, thyroid, stomach, and colon) have been found to affect all Marshall Islands population communities for all birth years from 1929 through 1968, and for all years of exposure from 1948 through 1970:

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency and other sources have warned that radioactive materials, such as cesium-137, could be used in radiological dispersion devices, or "dirty bombs".

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