1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Which element has "stronger" radiation?

  1. Oct 22, 2014 #1
    Sorry if I am asking a stupid question. I recently had an argument with my friend which among this two is more dangerous: 3H or 235U(not considering its decay chain products). I was under the impression that 3H has an effective dose about 1000 times smaller than 235U due to its weak beta-radiation. Various sources seem to confirm my guess that at least per *activity* tritium is one of the least dangerous radiactive iostope. However my friend said because tritium has a shorter-half life and lighter nuclei, it has very high activity/gram rate, about 10^11 higher than 235U which means it is in fact "millions of times of more dangerous" than 235U.

    His argument sounds convincing but a little contradictory to what I was originally impressed. I know 235U itself isn't that dangerous as media reported but I never thought it is "millions of times of safer" than tritium...

    So is he correct on this argument? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    "Dangerous" is not an intrinsic property of atoms. Are you talking the same activity or the same mass or the same volume or...? Are you inhaling, ingesting, touching or at a distance from the source? All of these influence risk.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook