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Do smoke detectors still use americium?

Do smoke detectors still use americium?

Most smoke detectors use americium-241 as their source. Some early models used radium-226, and commercial smoke detectors and some residential units used nickel-63. The types of radiation from these sources cannot make anything else radioactive.

Is americium-241 toxic?

IS AMERICIUM-241 HAZARDOUS? The main pathways of exposure from Amercium-241 are inhalation and ingestion. Americium-241 is a potentially dangerous isotope if it is taken into the body in soluble form. It decays by both alpha activity and gamma emissions and it would concentrate in the skeleton and liver.

What is AM 241 used for?

The most common isotope is americium-241. What are the uses of americium-241? Americium when blended with beryllium is used as a neutron source in the testing of machinery and in thickness gauges in the glass industry. Americium also is used as a radiation source in medical diagnostic devices and in research.

What happens if you touch americium?

Exposure to extremely high levels of americium, as has been reported in some animal studies, has resulted in damage to organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys, and thyroid. It is rare, however, that a person would be exposed to amounts of americium large enough to cause harmful effects in these organs.

Why is Am-241 used in smoke alarms?

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.

Can I buy americium-241?

Currently, the NIDC has Am-241 available for purchase with an isotopic purity exceeding 99% and a plutonium content of less than 1%. For further inquiries on Am-241 contact the NIDC at [email protected] or click the link below to request a quote.

How long does the americium last in a smoke detector?

Ionization-type smoke detector With its half-life of 432.2 years, the americium in a smoke detector decreases and includes about 3% neptunium after 19 years, and about 5% after 32 years.

What radiation does americium-241 give off?

Type of Radiation Emitted: Alpha Particles. Gamma Rays.

Why is americium 242 not used in 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.

Where can americium-241 be found?

Americium Sources Exposure to any significant amount of Am-241 is unlikely under normal circumstances. Small amounts of it are found in the soil, plants and water from nuclear weapons testing. Some smoke detectors contain very small amounts of Am-241.

Why is AM 241 used in smoke alarms?