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Caesium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Caesium compounds are rarely encountered by most people, but most caesium compounds are mildly toxic because of chemical similarity of caesium to potassium. Exposure to large amounts of caesium compounds can cause hyperirritability and spasms, but as such amounts would not ordinarily be encountered in natural sources, caesium is not a major chemical environmental pollutant.


Radiocaesium does not accumulate in the body as effectively as many other fission products (such as radioiodine and radiostrontium). As with other alkali metals, radiocaesium washes out of the body relatively quickly in sweat and urine. However, radiocaesium follows potassium and tends to accumulate in plant tissues, including fruits and vegetables.

Caesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years which means it persists in the environment but is not an intense source of radiation. The fact that it accumulates in vegetables is a problem.

Iodine 131 is a more serious short-terms threat, because it accumulates in thyroid tissue and due to its 8-day halflife it's a relatively intense beta emitter. This is why people are given iodine pills as a prophylactic measure.

Isotopes of iodine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iodine-131 (I131) is a beta-emitting isotope with a half-life of eight days, and comparatively energetic (190 KeV average and 606 KeV maximum energy) beta radiation, which penetrates 0.6 to 2.0 mm from the site of uptake. This beta radiation can be used in high dose for destruction of thyroid nodules and for elimination of remaining thyroid tissue after surgery for the treatment of Grave's disease. Especially in Grave's disease, often a thyroidectomy is performed before the radiotherapy, in order to avoid side effects of epilation and radiation toxicity. The purpose of this therapy, which was first explored by Dr. Saul Hertz in 1941,[1] is to destroy the remaining thyoid tissue that was impossible to be removed by surgery. In this procedure, I131 is administered either intravenously or orally following a diagnostic scan. This procedure may also be used to treat patients with thyroid cancer or hyperfunctioning thyroid tissue.

After the intake, the beta particles emitted by the high dose of radioisotope destroys the associated thyroid tissue with little damage to surrounding tissues (more than 2.0 mm from the tissues absorbing the iodine). Due to similar destruction, iodine-131 is the iodine radioisotope used in other water-soluble iodine-labeled radiopharmaceuticals (such as MIBG) which are intended to be used therapeutically to destroy tissues.

The high energy beta radiation from I-131 causes it to be the most carcinogenic of the iodine isotopes, and it is thought to cause the majority of the excess in thyroid cancers seen after nuclear fission contamination (such as bomb fallout or severe nuclear reactor accidents like the Chernobyl disaster).

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 09:43:22 AM EST
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