Technetium

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Precautions for Technetium Handling

Technetium is not exactly one of the chemical elements that naturally occur in the environment; so there is no real danger of encountering or handling Technetium elements by the layman. But usually Technetium elements are often used for industrial purposes and most commonly in research laboratories for nuclear studies.

It is in such places that the element needs to be handled with care and while keeping certain precautions and risks in mind. Whatever technetium component it might be, they are all highly toxic and should be treated and handled that way with care.

The isotope of Technetium that is most commonly used for studies etc in laboratories is the technetium-99 isotope. The radiation that is emitted from this kind of a technetium element is not unusually harmful as it is a weak emitter of beta radiation and the radiation does not normally reach beyond the glass walls of a laboratory.

However, those people who are working with the technetium component directly inside the laboratory will be in danger of its toxicity. However, the main reason for concern regarding the toxicity of the compound can be in the form of inhalation of the toxic dust of the technetium. Because the dust and the fumes of the element are radioactive it could dangerously harm the lungs of a human being and can result in cancer of the lung. The solution is actually quite simple for those who are working with this weak beat emitting isotope of the Technetium element, to simply use a fume-hood while working inside the laboratory. This should be sufficient protection against the toxic dust, and even a glove box should not be needed for working with such a substance. Also, there should be rules made regarding the prohibition of drinking, smoking or eating anywhere inside the laboratory where studies and tests with the element is being practiced; ingestion of the toxic substance directly inside your body which is bound to happen due to the dust and fumes given out by the element is definitely not safe.

 

Also, for those people who might consider themselves safe from the fumes and the dust of the Technetium element that is being worked with in the laboratory need to keep one thing in mind however. Even though most of the beta emission should be stopped by the glass walls of the laboratory, there might be some X-Rays, these are usually soft, which would be emitted even though the beat emission might not be reaching beyond the glass walls of the lab. This too has a simple precaution to be maintained. You should merely stay thirty centimeters away from the glass walls on the outside and the X-rays should not harm you.

However one thing you should know is that all isotopes of Technetium are radioactive and should all be handled with care and precaution. If proper safety measures and precautions are not followed with the handling of such elements, a laboratory can well be contaminated and cause danger to everybody around.