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Of the thirty-seven known isotopes of iodine, only one occurs in nature, iodine-127. The others are radioactive and have half-lives too short to be primordial. As such, iodine is both monoisotopic and mononuclidic and its atomic weight is known to great precision, as it is a constant of nature.

Iodine-131 (131I) is a beta-emitting isotope with a half-life of eight days, and comparatively energetic (190 keV average and 606 keV maximum energy) beta radiation, which penetrates 0.6 to 2.0 mm from the site of uptake. This beta radiation can be used for the destruction of thyroid nodules or hyperfunctioning thyroid tissue and for elimination of remaining thyroid tissue after surgery for the treatment of Graves’ disease. The purpose of this therapy, which was first explored by Dr. Saul Hertz in 1941, is to destroy thyroid tissue that could not be removed surgically. In this procedure, 131I is administered either intravenously or orally following a diagnostic scan. This procedure may also be used, with higher doses of radio-iodine, to treat patients with thyroid cancer.

Spectrum (Fullscreen)

5 minute measurement with a High Purity Germanium (HPGe) radiation detector.


Isotope: Iodine
Mass number: 131
Atomic number: 53
Neutron number: 78

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