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Recent discoveries of elements:

Industrial use of a radioisotope Sodium-24 with a half life of 15 hours is widely used as a leak detector in water pipes or underground oil pipelines. The radio tracer is added to the liquid and scanned along the pipe. If the tracer (sodium-24) leaks into the soil surrounding the pipe it can be detected and hence, the leak can be detected. A short lived isotope is needed so that after the leak has been found, the radioactivity quickly decays, the water or oil becomes safe to use again and the environment is quickly decontaminated. Sodim-24 is created by bombarding naturally occurring sodium-23 with neutrons which then decays by beta and gamma emission to magnesium-24.
23 11

Na +

n
0 -1

24 11

Na
24 12

24 11

Na

e +

Mg

Advantages of using sodium-24: It is non-toxic to humans or animals It is a beta and low intensity gamma emitter so no radiation can penetrate the pipes thick walls if pipe is in top condition Even though it is a beta emitter sodium-24s short half-life ensures it does not pose a direct threat to humans or animals Disadvantages of using sodium-24: It is not a naturally occurring isotope so commercial production of it in nuclear reactors is relied upon and there are significant threats associated with this Because of its short half-life testing for sodium-24 must be done close to the source There are long term effects and implications associated with handling the substance such as biological damage eg. tissue damage, cancer

Medical use of a radioisotope Technetium-99m with a short half life of 6 hours is widely used for diagnosis. If incorporated into some blood serum and injected into a patients bloodstream, its distribution throughout the body can be measured with a scintillation counter and used to detect blood clots, constrictions and other circulation disorders. It can also be used to detect brain tumours. A short lived isotope is needed so that it rapidly decays causing minimal damage to the patient. Technetium-99m is a pure gamma emitter. It is created when molybdenum-99 decays by beta emission. Technetium-99m then decays to technetium-99 by emitting gamma rays.

99 42

Mo

e +

99m

Tc

-1

43

Advantages of using technetium-99m: Since technetium-99m does not emit high energy beta emission, only low energy gamma rays, radiation dose to the patient is low Its short half-life means it is long enough to examine metabolic processes yet short enough to minimize radiation dose to the patient The low energy gamma rays it emits easily escape the human body and are accurately detected by a gamma camera Being reasonably reactive it can be reacted to form a compound with chemical properties that leads to concentration in the organ of interest such as the heart, liver, lungs, brain Disadvantages of using technetium-99m: Radiation exposure to technetium-99m poses a small, potential risk of inducing cancer in a patient later in life and is higher in younger patients