Silver, white metal, monoclinic.
The short-lived isotope 238Pu has been used in radioisotope generators in unmanned space satellites, lunar and interplanetary spaceships, heart pacemakers discontinued, and (as 238pu-be alloy) neutron sources.
Registry Numbers and Inventories.
Melting point, °C
Boiling point, °C
19.86 g/cm3 (20 C)
Solubility in water
Heat of fusion
Heat of vaporization
Hazards and Protection.
Pyrophoric products form on plutonium and particularly on certain alloys if they are stored for long periods in closed containers. When a container is opened, spontaneous ignition may occur. < 1 Mc exempt from licensing.
All chemicals should be considered hazardous. Avoid direct physical contact. Use appropriate, approved safety equipment. Untrained individuals should not handle this chemical or its container. Handling should occur in a chemical fume hood.
For the direct handling of kilogram quantities of plutonium, lead lined gloves (rad-bar) are recommended.
Use NIOSH/MSHA approved respirator appropriate for exposure of concern.
Evacuate area and ventilate. Wear protective equipment. If required, use an inert absrobent. Sweep up and place in an appropriate container for disposal. Wash contaminated surfaces.
Fissionable by fast neutron.
Strong oxidizing agents.
Wear a self-contained breathing apparatus in pressure-demand, MSHA/NIOSH (approved or equivalent), and full protective gear. During a fire, irritating and highly toxic gases may be generated by thermal decomposition or combustion. Use agent most appropriate to extinguish fire.
Supralethal radiation doses may result in headache, acute brain syndrome, alterations in mental status including coma, and (rarely) seizures within minutes of exposure. Prenatal ionizing radiation exposure may cause congenital anomalies, mental retardation, and an increased incidence of seizures.
Gastrointestinal syndrome (nausea/vomiting) commonly occurs after doses of 9 to 20 gy and may occur following doses as low as 5 gy. Initial vomiting is followed by persistent diarrhea, which may be bloody.
Pulmonary radiation injury may result in radiation pneumonitis and radiation pulmonary fibrosis.
Thermonuclear burns may occur. If erythema is produced by a penetrating radiation, serious systemic injury is certain.
Seek medical attention. If individual is drowsy or unconscious, do not give anything by mouth; place individual on the left side with the head down. Contact a physician, medical facility, or poison control center for advice about whether to induce vomiting. If possible, do not leave individual unattended.
Monitoring exposed patients for contamination and decontamination procedures should be started. All personnel involved in handling patients should wear disposable protective clothing. The patient should be completely undressed and given a soap and water bath or shower (if the patient's condition permits and if the facility exists). Acute inhalation of radionuclides presents some difficult problems.
Remove contaminated clothing. Wash exposed area with soap and water. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention. Launder clothing before reuse.
If symptoms develop, immediately move individual away from exposure and into fresh air. Flush eyes gently with water for at least 15 minutes while holding eyelids apart; seek immediate medical attention.