26 August 2022 Bulletin

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Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-grey appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, and forms a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation states. It reacts with carbon, halogens, nitrogen, silicon and hydrogen. When exposed to moist air, it forms oxides and hydrides that expand the sample up to 70% in volume, which in turn flake off as a powder that is pyrophoric. It is radioactive and can accumulate in bones, which makes the handling of plutonium dangerous. [1] Very small amounts of plutonium occur naturally. Plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 are formed in nuclear power plants when uranium-238 captures neutrons. [2]

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