Cesium is a naturally occurring element found combined with other elements in rocks, soil, and dust in low amounts. Naturally occurring cesium is not radioactive and is referred to as stable cesium. There is only one stable form of cesium naturally present in the environment, 133Cs (read as cesium one-thirty-three).
Nuclear explosions or the breakdown of uranium in fuel elements can produce two radioactive forms of cesium, 134Cs and 137Cs. Both isotopes decay into non-radioactive elements. 134Cs and 137Cs generate beta particles as they decay. It takes about 2 years for half of 134Cs to give off its radiation and about 30 years for 137Cs; this period of time is called the half-life.
Exposure to stable or radioactive cesium occurs from ingesting contaminated food
or drinking water or breathing contaminated air. High levels of radioactive cesium can cause nausea
, vomiting, diarrhea
, and even death
. This may occur after nuclear
accidents or detonation of atomic bombs. Stable (non-radioactive) cesium has been found in at least 10 of the 1,585 National Priority List (NPL) sites
identified by the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). Radioactive cesium has been found in at least 22 of the 1,585 NPL sites identified by the EPA.
See a doctor if you have been harmed by this substance. In addition, it
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- Coma: Overview
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- Nausea: Overview
- Cesium: Frequently Asked Questions