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Radon (Rn): Noble Gases

Radon (Rn)

What is Radon?

Radon (Rn), chemical element, a heavy radioactive gas of Group 18 (noble gases) of the periodic table, generated by the radioactive decay of radium. (Radon was originally called radium emanation.) Radon is a colourless gas, 7.5 times heavier than air and more than 100 times heavier than hydrogen. The gas liquefies at −61.8 °C (−79.2 °F) and freezes at −71 °C (−96 °F). On further cooling, solid radon glows with a soft yellow light that becomes orange-red at the temperature of liquid air (−195 °C [−319 °F]). Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

The History

In 1899, Ernest Rutherford and Robert B. Owens detected a radioactive gas being released by thorium. That same year, Pierre and Marie Curie detected a radioactive gas emanating from radium. In1900, Friedrich Ernst Dorn at Halle, Germany, noted that a gas was accumulating inside ampoules of radium. They were observing radon. That from radium was the longer-lived isotope radon-222 which has a half-life 3.8 days, and was the same isotope which the Curies has observed. The radon that Rutherford detected was radon-220 with a half-life of 56 seconds.

In 1900, Rutherford devoted himself to investigating the new gas and showed that it was possible to condense it to a liquid. In 1908, William Ramsay and Robert Whytlaw-Gray at University College, London, collected enough radon to determine its properties and reported that it was the heaviest gas known. Continue reading from Royal Society of Chemistry

Radon Facts

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is associated with approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year. Radon gas is colorless, but it exudes a brilliant yellow phosphorescence (light emitted from a substance without perceptible heat) at temperatures below its freezing point. Around one in 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. The odorless gas can enter homes through cracks in walls, floors and foundations. Continue reading from LiveScience

Chart of Elemental Properties for Radon

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