How Was Radon Discovered?


Quick Answer

In 1900, German chemist Friedrich Ernst Dorn discovered radon while examining radium's decay chain. Radon is primarily acquired through the alpha decay of radium. Radon was initially named niton, but it was changed to radon in 1923.

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Full Answer

Radon's atomic number is 86, and its atomic weight is 222. Radon melts at 202 K. The gas boils at 211.45 K. The element is classified as a nonmetal and is placed in the noble gas group.

At room temperature, radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas. Due to its gaseous form at room temperature, radon is an incredibly dangerous element that can be inhaled, causing radiation exposure to live tissue.

Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days. Radon-222 is the most stable isotope. Radon decays into solid radioactive elements that collect on dust particles. The dust particles can be inhaled as well. Radon can enter homes through the decay of radium, thorium and uranium ores in the ground beneath the foundation. Through alpha decay, radon decays into polonium-218.

Radon glows yellow in its cool, solid form. As the temperature drops, it glows orange-red.

Radon is sometimes used in hospitals to treat specific types of cancer. The only confirmed compound of radon is radon fluoride (RnF).

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