Difference Between Radon and Radium

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 07, 2022

       

Difference Between Radon and Radium Difference Between Radon and Radium

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Introduction

The main distinction between radon and radium is that the former is a radioactive element, while the latter is a noble gas.

Despite the fact that radon and radium have similar names, these two chemical elements are entirely different. They happen in various physical conditions. However, due to their high atomic number, both of these elements are radioactive.

Radium is created naturally when uranium, a radioactive element that occurs in trace amounts in nature, decays. As present in small amounts, radon is a naturally occurring gas that exists all throughout the world. However, when radon concentrations rise, major health issues may result. This is true because when people breathe in these particles, they become lodged in their lungs and remain there.

They will keep deteriorating over time, and this radioactive decay can lead to severe health issues in people, particularly lung cancer.

This is true because when people breathe in these particles, they become lodged in their lungs and remain there. They will keep deteriorating over time, and this radioactive decay can lead to severe health issues in people, particularly lung cancer.

Radon vs. Radium

The fundamental distinction between radium and radon is that the former is a radioactive substance, while the latter is an inert gas. However, both of these elements are radioactive because of their high atomic number. Additionally, the intermediate decay product of radium is radon. When compared to radium, radon has a very low melting point and boiling point while radium has a very high melting point and boiling point.

When radium decays, a radioactive gas called radon is created. It belongs to the group of elements that result from the uranium decay series, which continues until the stable element lead is reached. When radon decays, polonium and alpha particles are produced. Additionally, it has a face-centred cubic crystal structure. When radon is consumed, it breaks down into the radioactive element polonium, which could increase the body's radioactive load. Malignant cells may grow as a result of this.

When uranium and lead break down, a metal called radium is created. Its high radioactivity is a fact widely acknowledged. Pierre and Marie Curie discovered it in a uranium ore mine in 1898. The fact that the element can glow led to its identification. The metal was first produced in its pure state by Marie Curie and a coworker in 1911. The Latin word "ray," which alludes to the element's radioactivity, is the source of its name.

A radioactive gas is called radon. Lead, the stable daughter product of uranium, is the end result of this decay. It is radium's natural daughter product. It is quite common in the crust of the Earth, and where it is found depends on the local geology. It poses a health risk and is linked to lung cancer. An additional metal in the uranium to lead decay chain is radium. Since radium is so radioactive, it can shine, and at one time it was used to create luminous paints, but that practice is now deemed to be too risky. Radium is present in the Earth's crust in all sites, but it is particularly abundant in uranium mines and companies that use fossil fuels.

Both radioactive byproducts of uranium decay, radon and radium, are found in nature. Ironically, they have both been used to treat cancer while also being known to cause it. However, they differ in that radium is a solid at room temperature, whereas radon is a gas. The longest-lived isotope of radon only has a half-life of 3.8 days, but the longest-lived isotope of radium has a half-life of around 1600 years.

The fact that the element can glow led to its identification. The metal was first produced in its pure state by Marie Curie and a coworker in 1911. The Latin word "ray," which alludes to the element's radioactivity, is the source of its name.

Difference Between Radon and Radium in Tabular Form

Table: Radon vs. Radium
Parameter of comparison
Radon
Radium
Definition
The noble gas designated by the chemical symbol Rn is radon.
 The chemical element radium, represented by the symbol Ra, is radioactive.
Block Element
P- block
S - block
State of matter
Gas
Solid
Atomic number
86
88
Existence
Very Rare
Less Rare than Radon

What is Radon?

With the chemical symbol Rn and atomic number 86, radon is a noble gas. Due to its unstable nature and high atomic number, it is a radioactive element. It is an inert noble gas that has no colour, smell, or taste. This substance naturally develops during the intermediary stages of thorium and uranium's radioactive decay. The second stage of radium's decay is radon. The most prevalent and stable isotope of radon has an atomic mass of 222. The half-life of this stable isotope is around 3.8 days, though. Radon is one of the rarest chemical elements on Earth because its decay happens so swiftly.

In group 18 and period 6, the p-block element radon belongs. It has an octet-rule compliant full electronic structure. At room temperature and pressure, it is a vital gas because it possesses negative melting and boiling points. Additionally, it has a cubic crystal structure with a face at the centre. Since radon atoms don't contain any unpaired electrons, it isn't magnetic in terms of its magnetic properties. Additionally, it is an inert gas and the densest of the noble gases.

Discovery of Radon

Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radon for the first time in 1899 as a gas produced by the decay of radium. In parallel, physicist Ernst Rutherford made the discovery that thorium was emitting a radioactive gas during his studies. It was formally discovered in 1900 by German chemist Friedrich Ernst Dorn at Halle.

Impact on health

It has been discovered to represent a significant health risk since its discovery. It has a substantial correlation with the development of lung cancer. Those exposed to radon inhale it. The local geology, including the level of uranium or thorium in the soil, has an impact on the amount of radon present. As radon is inhaled, it also decomposes into the radioactive element polonium, which can increase the body's concentration of radioactive material. This may lead to the development of malignant cells.

Although radon has been linked to the development of cancer, it has also been utilised to treat the disease in the past. Radon gas was once injected into tumours and malignant cells in order to kill them. Despite being short-lived, radon is common enough to contribute significantly to Earth's background radiation.

Repercussions on the evolution of life on Earth

Because of the mutagenic properties of the radioactive gas, it has been hypothesised that it may have had a significant impact on evolution. The local plant, animal, and microbial life may have undergone more mutations in areas with higher radon content in the country rock, which may have resulted in more mutations and, consequently, more evolution among those populations.

What is Radium?

With the atomic number 88 and the chemical symbol Ra, radium is a radioactive chemical element. Due to its placement in group 2 of the periodic table, it is referred to as an alkaline earth metal. It has a white appearance when it is pure. It easily combines with nitrogen in the presence of air to produce radium nitride, which has a dark colour. Ra-226 is the radioactive isotope that is most stable. This isotope has a half-life of roughly 1600 years.

The periodic table's group 2 and period 7 both contain radium. It is a member of the s-block. Although its atomic orbitals are fully filled, it lacks enough electrons to adhere to the octet rule. This element can exist in the solid state at ordinary temperatures and pressures. Its crystal structure is a cubic body-centred structure. It is not magnetic because there are no unpaired electrons. Radium is the only radioactive element in group 2 of the periodic table. This chemical element is volatile in its purest form. Both its melting and boiling points are relatively high.

Properties

A delicate, silvery metal, radium. Due to its radioactivity, it can glow in the dark when it is in its purest form. With an abundance of one part per trillion, it ranks as the 84th most prevalent element in the crust of the Earth. It is the heaviest alkaline earth metal and can mix with the majority of nonmetals, such as oxygen and nitrogen, to form uncommon molecules. Radium-226, an isotope of radium with a half-life of roughly 1600 years, is the one with the longest half-life.

Uses of radium

Due to its ability to glow, radium was previously utilised to create luminous paints. It was originally used in toothpaste and on clocks that were intended to be seen in the dark, for instance. Before its high radioactivity was known, this was the case. Radium has occasionally been employed in the treatment of prostate cancer that has metastasized to bone tissue. This is due to the comparable properties of radium and calcium and the fact that calcium is a component of bones.

Health hazards

The fact that Marie Curie's radium-related research notes are still too radioactive to handle safely illustrates the level of radioactivity in the element radium. As a result, radium can easily raise the risk of developing cancer, blood conditions like anaemia, eye conditions like cataracts, and dental issues.

Miners, particularly uranium miners, are likely to be exposed to radium at higher levels than other workers. Air near factories that use fossil fuels and well water both have greater levels of radium. Humans and other life forms are constantly exposed to non-harmful quantities of radiation from radium due to the element's abundance in the Earth's crust.

Similarities Between Radon and Radium

They both have radioactive properties and were ultimately created when uranium decays into lead. Both of these have been used to treat cancer, despite the fact that they are both known to cause it. The relative abundance of both elements in the crust exposes life on Earth to steady, safe doses of radiation from radon and radium.

Differences Between Radon and Radium in Points

  • Many things are similar, but there are also clear variances. The following are some of them.
  • In contrast to radon, which is a gas at room temperature, radium is a solid.
  • The longest-living form of radon only has a half-life of 3.8 days, but the longest-living form of radium has a half-life of 1600 years.
  • Radon has an atomic number of 86 while radium has an atomic number of 88.
  • The main distinction between radon and radium is that the former is a radioactive element, while the latter is a noble gas. However, due to their high atomic numbers, both of these elements are radioactive. In addition, radium's intermediate decay product is radon. Additionally, radon has a half-life of about 3.8 days while radium has a half-life of roughly 1600 years.
  • Despite the fact that radon and radium have similar names, these two chemical elements are entirely different. The main distinction between radon and radium is that the former is a radioactive element, while the latter is a noble gas. However, due to their high atomic numbers, both of these elements are radioactive.

Conclusion

A radioactive gas called radon is present in the environment. It occurs when uranium breaks down into lead, one of its stable offspring. It is a direct offspring of radium. It is widely distributed across the crust of the Earth and is influenced by regional geology. Lung cancer has been linked to it, making it a health risk.

The cycle of decay from uranium to lead includes the element radium. Since radium is so radioactive, it may shine. It was originally used to make brilliant paints, but this practice is no longer thought to be safe. While radium is present in all parts of the Earth's crust, it is particularly abundant in uranium mines and enterprises that use fossil fuels.

Radium and radon are both byproducts of uranium's radioactive decay. Both of these, interestingly, have been used to treat cancer. However, they differ in that radium is a solid at room temperature while radon is a gas.

References

  • Hanusa, Timothy P. “Radium.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Mar. 2019, Available here.

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"Difference Between Radon and Radium." Diffzy.com, 2022. Thu. 08 Dec. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-radon-and-radium-678>.



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