The naturally occurring isotopes are fissionable 235U (0.7205% of natural uranium), 238U which cannot be fissioned with thermal neutrons (99.2739% of natural uranium), and 234U, a decay product of 238U (0.0056%). Enriched uranium is that in which the percentage of the fissionable isotope 235U has increased beyond the content of 0.7205% of natural uranium. Depleted uranium has a lower percentage of 235U than that occurring in natural uranium; it is produced during uranium isotope separation.
The decay of uranium yields a series (see radioactive series) of radioactive products, including radium and radon. Exposure to the radiation emitted by uranium can cause tissue damage or cancer. Uranium is also chemically poisonous and can cause damage to the urinary system.
Related categories ATOMIC AND NUCLEAR PHYSICS
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