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Chemical Research in Toxicology 25 (2012) 1551−1564
Review of chemical and radiotoxicological properties of polonium
E. Ansoborlo1, P. Berard2, C. Den Auwer1, R. Leggett, F. Menetrier2, A. Younes3, Gilles Montavon3, P. Moisy1

The discovery of polonium (Po) was first published in July, 1898 by P. Curie and M. Curie. It was the first element to be discovered by the radiochemical method. Polonium can be considered as a famous but neglected element: only a few studies of polonium chemistry have been published, mostly between 1950 and 1990. The recent (2006) event in which 210Po evidently was used as a poison to kill A. Litvinenko has raised new interest in polonium. 2011 being the 100th anniversary of the Marie Curie Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the aim of this review is to look at the several aspects of polonium linked to its chemical properties and its radiotoxicity, including (i) its radiochemistry and interaction with matter; (ii) its main sources and uses; (iii) its physicochemical properties; (iv) its main analytical methods; (v) its background exposure risk in water, food, and other environmental media; (vi) its biokinetics and distribution following inhalation, ingestion, and wound contamination; (vii) its dosimetry; and (viii) treatments available (decorporation) in case of internal contamination.
1 :  SCPS - Service de Chimie des Procédés de Séparation
3 :  SUBATECH - Laboratoire SUBATECH Nantes