Symbol Ra
Atomic Number 88
Atomic Mass 226 g.mol 1
Discovered by Marie Sklodowska Curie and Perre Curie in 1898

Table of Contents

What is Radium?

  • Radium is a chemical element with the symbol Ra. It is the sixth element in the Group 2 of the periodic table.
  • Pure radium is silvery-white in colour, but it combines with nitrogen readily on exposure to air and forms a black surface layer of radium nitride.
  • Radium was discovered by Marie Sklodowska Curie and Perre Curie in 1898, in the form of radium chloride. They extracted the radium compound from uraninite. It is found in uranium ores at 1 part per 3 million parts of uranium.

Chemical Properties of Radium

Group 2 Melting point 696°C, 1285°F, 969 K
Period 7 Boiling point 1500°C, 2732°F, 1773 K
Block s Density (g cm3) 5
Atomic number 88 Relative atomic mass [226]
State at 20°C Solid Key isotopes 226Ra
Electron configuration [Rn] 7s2 CAS number 7440-14-4
ChemSpider ID 4886483 ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database

Physical properties of Radium

  • Radium is the heaviest known alkaline earth metal and is the only radioactive member of its group. Its physical and chemical properties most closely resemble its lighter congener barium.
  • Radium is a highly reactive metal and always exhibits its group oxidation state. It forms the colourless Ra2+ cation in an aqueous solution, which is highly basic and doesn’t form complexes. Most radium compounds are therefore simple ionic compounds.
  • Radium oxide: RaO
  • Radium hydroxide: Ra(OH)2
  • Radium chloride: RaCl2
  • Radium bromide: RaBr2
  • Radium nitrate: Ra(NO3)2
  • Radium emits alpha, beta, and gamma rays when mixed with beryllium produces neutrons.

Applications and effects of Radium

  • Some of the few practical uses of radium are derived from its radioactive properties. Radium was formerly used in self-luminous paints for watches, nuclear panels, aircraft switches, clocks, and instrument dials.
  • Earlier, Ra was used as an additive in a product such as toothpaste, hair cream, and even food items.
  • Radium was used in medicine to produce radon gas,which was used as a cancer treatment.

Health effects of Radium

  • It is highly radiotoxic and carcinogenic by inhalation, ingestion or exposure and used in treating cancer and other body disorders. The element Ra is over a million times more radioactive than the same mass of uranium.
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