10 Interesting Facts about Actinium

These following facts about actinium will give you much information about this chemical element. Actinium is a radioactive chemical element with symbol Ac and atomic number 89, which was discovered in 1899. It was the first non-primordial radioactive element to be isolated. Polonium, radium and radon were observed before actinium, but they were not isolated until 1902. To get to know more about this element, here are some other facts about actinium you might interested in.

Facts about actinium 1: Reaction

A soft, silvery-white radioactive metal, actinium reacts rapidly with oxygen and moisture in air forming a white coating of actinium oxide that prevents further oxidation.

Facts about actinium 2: Properties

Actinium is a soft, silvery-white, radioactive, metallic element. Its estimated shear modulus is similar to that of lead. Owing to its strong radiooactivity, actinium glows in the dark with a pale blue light, which originates from the surrounding air ionized by the emitted energetic particles.

Facts about actinium - Actinium Element
Facts about actinium – Actinium Element

Facts about actinium 3: Actinides

The first element of the actinides, actinium gave the group its name, much as lanthanum had done for the lanthanides. The group of elements is more diverse than the lanthanides and therefore it was not until 1945 that Glenn T. Seaborg proposed the most significanct change to Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table, by introducing the actinides.

Facts about actinium 4: Occurrence in Nature

Actinium is found in uranium ore. An ore is a mineral mined for the elements it contains. It is produced by the radioactive decay, or breakdown, of uranium and other unstable elements. Actinium can also be artificially produced. When radium is bombarded with neutrons, some of the neutrons become part of the nucleus. 

Facts about actinium - Actinium
Facts about actinium – Actinium

Facts about actinium 5: Uses of Actinium

Actinium’s high activity level makes it valuable in producing neutrons. There has been some work done to use 225Ac in treating cancer patients.

Facts about actinium 6: Health Effects

Like all radioactive materials, actinium is a health hazard. If taken into the body, it tends to be deposited in the bones, where the energy it emits damages or destroys cells. Radiation is known to cause bone cancer and other disorders. 

Facts about actinium - Applications
Facts about actinium – Applications

Facts about actinium 7: Second-time Discovery

Actinium was discovered a second time in 1902. German chemist Friedrich 0. Giesel (1852-1927) had not heard of Debierne’s earlier discovery. Giesel suggested the name emanium, from the word emanation, which means “to give off rays.” Debierne’s name was adopted, however, because he discovered actinium first.

Facts about actinium 8: Precautions

The 227Ac is highly radioactive and experiments with it are carried out in a specially designed laboratory equipped with a glove box. When actinium trichloride is administered intravenously to rats, about 33% of actinium is deposited into the bones and 50% into the liver.

Facts about actinium - Symbol
Facts about actinium – Symbol

Facts about actinium 9: Isotopes

About a dozen isotopes of actinium are known. All are radioactive. The two that occur in nature are actinium-227 and actinium-228. Isotopes are two or more forms of an element. Isotopes differ from each other according to their mass number. The number written to the right of the element’s name is the mass number.

Facts about actinium 10: Applications

The 227Ac is highly radioactive and was therefor studied for use as an active element of radioisotope thermoelectric generators, for example in spacecraft.

Facts about actinium - UraniniteFacts about actinium - Uraninite
Facts about actinium – Uraninite

Hope you would find those actinium facts really interesting and useful for your additional reading.

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