Examples of radioactive isotopes

In an element whose mass number is different but has the same number of protons, that is an isotope , when these atoms are modified in their nucleus they are radioactive isotopes, in this content we will give some useful concepts and examples of radioactive isotopes .

Knowing the number of protons that an atom has, we will know to which element of the chemical periodic table it belongs, so, as we have said, it is identified by the number of protons, an isotope is an atom.

What is a radioactive isotope

An element, represented in the chemical periodic table, whose neutrons vary in number and the number of protons is the same, it is an isotope, its nucleus remains the same.

In a radioactive isotope, its nucleus undergoes a variation that makes it an unstable atom, causing it to emit particles and radiation due to the excess energy it now has, that is, it has a nuclear process .

Any chemical element can be converted into a radioisotope, they exist naturally or artificially, let’s see:

  • Natural radioactivity : they are in nature without human intervention, an example of this is radon gas from the chemical element uranium.
  • Induced or artificial radioactivity : it is the one made artificially by man, most radioactive isotopes must be produced by some mechanism using reactors or cyclotrons, to cause nuclear fission or nuclear fusion .

Types of radiation emitted by a radioactive isotope

    • Alpha particles : they are ionized nuclei, with little penetrating power, that is, a sheet of paper is capable of stopping it a few centimeters, but it must be taken into account that they cannot be inhaled or ingested, they are very harmful to the body.
    • Alpha particles : those of natural radiation can pass through the skin, they are negative electrons and have greater penetrating power.
    • Gamma radiation : They are capable of propagating at the speed of light, extremely penetrating, their high energy could only be stopped by thick layers of lead or concrete.

Uses of radioactive isotopes

    • In radiation therapy for cancer treatments
    • In diagnostics (contrast: gamma emitter)
    • X-rays, ionizing but not radioactive
    • Carbon Testing -14
    • In agriculture, for the preservation and sterilization of food
    • In industrial measurements, degrees of humidity, smoke detectors, among others.

Examples of radioactive isotopes

Some radioactive isotopes can enter our body since they are found naturally in the earth’s crust, such as,

  1. Uranium-235
  2. Uranium-238
  3. Thorium-232
  4. Radio-226
  5. Radon-222
  6. Potassium-40

Some atoms of potassium-40 can be ingested in food and other radioactive isotopes can be inhaled through tobacco, such as lead-210.

In medicine the most used radioactive isotopes are:

  1. Technetium-99
  2. Iodine-131

Radioactive isotopes of gamma emission:

  1. Isotope
  2. Barium-33
  3. Cadmium-109
  4. Cobalt-57
  5. Cobalt-60
  6. Europium-152
  7. Manganese-54
  8. Sodium-22
  9. Zinc -65

Reactive beta emission isotopes

  1. Strontium-90
  2. Thallium-204
  3. Carbon-14
  4. Tritium (Hydrogen-3)

Reactive alpha emission isotopes

  1. Polonium-210
  2. Uranium-235


  1. Cesium-137
  2. Americium-231

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