Americium is a man-made radioactive chemical. Americium has no naturally occurring or stable isotopes. Two important isotopes of americium are americium 241 (241Am) (read as americium two-forty-one) and 243Am. Both isotopes have the same chemical behavior in the environment and the same chemical effects on your body.
241Americium is used in ionization smoke detectors. There is no commercial use for 243Am.
Nuclear explosions or degradation of plutonium generate 241Am. 243Am is produced inside nuclear reactors
from 241Am or from the decay of plutonium 241. Both americium isotopes decay into radioactive elements. Both isotopes give off alpha particles as they decay. It takes about 432 years for half of 241Am to give off its radiation and about 7,370 years for 243Am; this period of time is called the half-life.
Very low levels of americium occur in air, water, soil, and food
. Exposure to very large amounts of radioactive americium may result in increased cancer
risk. Americium has been found in at least 8 of the 1,585 National Priorities List (NPL) sites identified by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).
See a doctor if you have been harmed by Amricium. In addition, it
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- Toxic & Hazardous Substances
- Americium: Frequently Asked Questions