Friday, May 20, 2016

Is Bismuth Safe to Keep?

Q: Hello, my name is Salvador and i'm a 13 year old curious about a certain mineral I have stumbled upon. It's Bi 83 (bismuth) and I was wondering if it could hurt my health being slightly radioactive. Should I get rid of it or can I keep it?

- Salvador A

A: Metallic Bismuth is certainly a beautiful thing to look at - I also have a sample. And while technically it IS very faintly radioactive, the half-life of Bi-209 is more than a billion times greater than the estimated age of the universe [Dumé, Belle: Physics World (23 April 2003)]. In fact, it is so weakly radioactive that this feature wasn't even discovered until 2005.

The YOOOGE number for the Bismuth half-life translates into no risk to you. You will get more exposure to cosmic and other radiation walking from your house to your car.

Keep the sample wherever you want to.

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