Internal contamination with plutonium

Internal Contamination with Plutonium

Plutonium is a radioactive, toxic element found naturally in the environment in trace amounts. It is also a man-made element produced as a byproduct of nuclear energy production. Although plutonium is not very soluble in water, small particles can be inhaled, leading to a risk of internal contamination. In most cases, inhalation of trace amounts of plutonium does not cause any health effects, but when large concentrations are present, internal contamination can lead to serious medical problems.

Health Effects of Contamination

Internal contamination with plutonium can lead to a wide range of health effects, depending on the amount of plutonium inhaled or ingested. The radioactive particles of plutonium can emit alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, which can damage the tissue and leading to the development of cancer. Long-term exposure to high levels of plutonium can also lead to kidney damage, as well as lung and gastrointestinal problems.

Treatment for Plutonium Contamination

If contaminated with plutonium, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Depending on the amount of plutonium inhaled, treatment may include:

  • Drugs or dietary changes to reduce the amount of plutonium absorbed
  • Surgery to remove the plutonium particles from the lungs or other organs
  • Intravenous fluids to flush the plutonium out of the body
  • Radiation therapy to reduce the level of plutonium in the body

In some cases, the body may be able to naturally remove the plutonium particles without any medical intervention. However, in this case, it is important to monitor radiation levels regularly to make sure that the rate of contamination is declining.


The best way to prevent internal plutonium contamination is to avoid exposure to the element in the first place. Plutonium should be handled with extreme care in controlled, cleanroom environments, and protective gear such as respirators and gloves should always be worn. In addition, radiation monitoring equipment should be in place to detect any leaks or contamination.