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Electron shell diagram of polonium
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Polonium, Element 84, is an incredibly radioactive and toxic element. It has 42 isotopes,Wikipedia all of which are radioactive and unstable. Due to the short half-life of all its isotopes,[note 1] it is rarely found in nature. It was first discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie and is named after Marie's home country of Poland. During the Cold War, it was used to heat Soviet satellites but is now just used to assassinate ex-FSB agents.Wikipedia Polonium is also present in tobacco smoke.[1]


Polonium-210 (210Po. Historically, Radium F) is an isotope of polonium and has the longest half-life of all naturally occurring isotopes, being about 138.376 days. Due to its radioactivity, it's extremely toxic to humans, having been used to poison Alexander LitvinenkoWikipedia in 2006(see above) and possibly having also been used to assassinate Yasser Arafat.Wikipedia[2] It was originally intended to be used as a neutron initiator in nuclear weapons, although later on concerns for the safety of workers handling it caused extensive studies to be taken up on its health effects.

Polonium halos[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Polonium halos


  1. The shortest being Polonium-186, with a half-life of about 34 milliseconds


  1. Cigarette Smoking and Radiation, CDC
  2. Swiss institute finds polonium in Arafat's effects. Abnormally high amounts of polonium found on Arafat's clothes and personal belongings, leading some to suspect he was poisoned.