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Workers using glovebox to handle plutonium

Workers using glovebox to handle plutonium

T175/0003

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51.6 MB (3.2 MB compressed)

4922 x 3661 pixels

41.7 x 31.0 cm ⏐ 16.4 x 12.2 in (300dpi)

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Credit

U.S. DEPT. OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY U.S. DEPT. OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Workers using a glovebox to handle radioactive plutonium compounts at a processing plant at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA. Plutonium (atomic number 94, symbol Pu) is almost exlusively a man-made substance, although a minute quantity of its major isotope, Pu-239, is formed by the decay of uranium, the heaviest naturally- occurring element. Pu-239 undergoes nuclear fission (splitting) into smaller nuclei, a process that is accompanied by a vast release of energy. Hence its use as an explosive in atomic bombs and as a fuel in nuclear reactors. Plutonium is highly toxic and a potent carcinogen (cancer-forming agent), even in minute quantities.

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