Quick Answer: Is It Legal To Own Americium?

What does Americium decay into?

It decays into neptunium-239 through alpha decay.

Americium can be produced in kilogram quantities and has a few practical uses.

It is used in smoke detectors and can be used as a portable source of gamma rays..

Who invented smoke alarms?

Walter Jaeger’sIn the late 1930s, a Swiss physicist was working on a sensor for detecting poison gas. Walter Jaeger’s device failed to register small amounts of gas. Frustrated, he lit a cigarette—and the smoke moved the meter on his gadget. Jaeger’s experiment helped pave the way for today’s smoke detector.

Why is alpha radiation best for smoke detectors?

An isotope of americium which emits alpha particles is used in smoke alarms. Alpha radiation ionises the air and this allows a small current to flow between two electrodes. Alpha is weakly penetrating so smoke stops it, the current drops and the alarm goes off.

What type of americium is in smoke detectors?

The isotope of americium used in smoke detectors is americium-241, which decays by α emission to neptunium-237 with a half-life of 432.2 years.

What happens if you touch americium?

Alpha particles are relatively high energy particles, but travel only extremely short distances and do not penetrate the skin. However, if americium is taken into the body and enters body tissues, alpha particles may produce damage to nearby cells.

Is americium still used in smoke detectors?

Ionization chamber smoke detectors contain a small amount of americium-241, a radioactive material. Smoke particles disrupt the low, steady electrical current produced by radioactive particles and trigger the detector’s alarm. They react quickly to fires that give off little smoke.

How much does americium cost?

The americium oxide used in smoke detectors costs around $1500 per gram – compare this with the current gold price of around $30 per gram.

Can you throw smoke detectors in the garbage?

As the level of radiation is very small and does not present a health hazard, the EPA advises that small numbers of ionisation smoke detectors can be safely disposed of in general household rubbish or taken to a community recycling centre.

What is the symbol for americium?


What radiation does americium 241 give off?

The radiation from the decay of americium-241 and its daughters is in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. Alpha particles can travel only short distances and generally will not penetrate the outer layer of human skin. Gamma rays can penetrate the body.

How much americium is dangerous?

Americium and its isotopes are also very chemically toxic as well, in the form of heavy-metal toxicity. As little as 0.03 μCi (1,110 Bq) is the maximum permissible body burden for 241Am.

What is the most expensive element in the world?

franciumThe most expensive natural element is francium. Although francium occurs naturally, it decays so quickly that it cannot be collected for use. Only a few atoms of francium have been produced commercially, so if you wanted to produce 100 grams of francium, you could expect to pay a few billion U.S. dollars for it.

Why is americium named americium?

Americium was first isolated as a pure compound by Burris Cunningham in 1945, at the University of Chicago. The element was named after America, because it is located below Europium (element 63) in the periodic table, which was named after Europe.

Why is americium in smoke detectors?

Ionization smoke detectors use americium as a source of alpha particles. Alpha particles from the americium source ionize air molecules. This makes some particles positively charged and some negatively charged. … Because of this shielding, the smoke detector poses no radiation health risk when they are properly handled.

Who found americium?

Glenn T. SeaborgAlbert GhiorsoRalph A. JamesAmericium/Discoverers