There's an interesting article on managing unstable radioactive chemicals in last week's C&EN at
Safety highlights in the article:
The work was led by chemistry professors Thomas E. Albrecht-Schmitt of Florida State University and Jenifer Braley of Colorado School of Mines. Oak Ridge National Laboratory provided a total of 13 mg of 249Bk in the form of BkCl3 for the study.
Because of the radiation danger, Albrecht-Schmitt did the synthesis and crystallization, then subdivided the material into samples for pairs of students to characterize using X-ray diffraction, spectroscopy, magnetic susceptibility, and extraction measurements. As 249Bk emits electrons, the crystals build up positive charge, which eventually causes them to explode. Consequently, all testing had to be completed within 24 hours of crystal formation. Accomplishing everything in such a short time frame wouldnČ??t have been possible a couple of decades ago, but instrumentation advances, particularly in X-ray diffraction, have made such a feat feasible, Albrecht-Schmitt says.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College
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