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Science Innovation Centre · 084 · Polonium

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Polonium is a radioactive, extremely rare semi-metal. It is reactive, silvery-grey, it dissolves in dilute acids, but it is only slightly soluble in alkalis. It is fairly volatile: about half of a sample of it will evaporate within 3 days (unless it is kept in a sealed container).

Polonium was once used in textile mills (to eliminate static charges) and by the manufacturers of photographic plates (in brushes to remove the accumulated dust). It is used as a source of alpha-radiation for research and, alloyed with beryllium it can act as a portable source of neutrons, which normally only access to a nuclear reactor can provide.