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It decays by emitting alpha particles and gamma radiation to become neptunium-237.Smoke detectors use a very small quantity of Am is used as it emits alpha particles which ionise the air in the detector's ionization chamber.(In theory, only 146 of them are stable, and the other 106 are believed to decay (alpha decay or beta decay or double beta decay or electron capture or double electron capture).) All chemical elements can exist as radionuclides.Even the lightest element, hydrogen, has a well-known radionuclide, tritium.This complex mixture of radionuclides with different chemistries and radioactivity makes handling nuclear waste and dealing with nuclear fallout particularly problematic.
Radiation exposure can produce effects ranging from skin redness and hair loss, to radiation burns and acute radiation syndrome.
Radionuclides that find their way into the environment may cause harmful effects as radioactive contamination.
They can also cause damage if they are excessively used during treatment or in other ways exposed to living beings, by radiation poisoning.
For example, polonium can be found in uranium ores at about 0.1 mg per metric ton (1 part in 10 Further radionunclides may occur in nature in virtually undetectable amounts as a result of rare events such as spontaneous fission or uncommon cosmic ray interactions.
Radionuclides are produced as an unavoidable result of nuclear fission and thermonuclear explosions.
Many of these radionuclides exist only in trace amounts in nature, including all cosmogenic nuclides.