Iodine Isotopes are the atoms that have in their nucleus an atomic number corresponding to the chemical behavior of that element. Since isotopes have the same number of protons, they all have identical chemical behavior. But, however, since their neutron numbers are different the isotopes of the same element may have different radioactivity. An isotope that is radioactive is called a radioisotope like iodine, which is important in our health.

In radioactivity, the nucleus of an unstable isotope or element breaks down by itself and gives off rays and particles; the ratio of neutrons to protons for stable isotopes increases for heavier elements and the ratio for stability for the most stable isotopes. Iodine is one of the earliest elements whose radioisotopes were used in nuclear medicine. The most common, stable form of iodine has an atomic number of 53 and an atomic weight of 127, this is because you have 53 protons plus 74 neutrons. These numbers mean that the nucleus is stable and not radioactive.

However, a lesser stable form of iodine has 53 protons but only four extra neutrons, for a total atomic weight of 131. With too many neutrons in its nucleus, iodine is unstable and radioactive with a half life of up to eight days. Because of its radioactivity, Iodine 131 can be detected in the body, particularly in the thyroid gland. Iodine can be used as a form of a solution in medicine as a germicide as well. In producing purple dye, its radioactive isotopes can also be used in medical diagnosis; for example it can be used to treat thyroid cancer and act as a tracer in the body to determine how well the thyroid is functioning.

As a matter of fact, we humans need about 140mg of iodine a day. Foods such as fish, sea vegetables, and other foods of marine origin, are your dietary iodine in which is usually taken in. Iodine is also added to salt to make sure that people around the world get enough of their dietary iodine, called Iodized Salt. Regardless of the health, lack of iodine in one’s diet can lead to a goiter. A goiter can be any type of several growths in the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the front side of the neck just below the Adams pple, as shown in the figure on the left. In Grave’s disease, the entire thyroid gland becomes enlarged. Goiters are caused or can form by one eating too much goiter-promoting foods, such as soybeans, rutabagas, cabbage, peaches, peanuts, and spinach. These foods can encourage the production of thyroid hormone by interfering with ones thyroidiatic ability to process iodine. Throughout history it was common to get this through a poor iodine diet, but when idolized salt was introduced to the United States in the 1920’s, it made goiters a much rarer thing.

However a goiter may be a temporary problem that will eventually heal itself over time without any symptoms of another. Yet, still to this day, people are still lacking a good iodine diet. This goes in particular to pregnant women the most. Children with iodine deficiency and later hypothyroidism can suffer from undersized growth, along with mental retardation and problems in movement, speech, and/or hearing. Around 50 million children worldwide are affected by iodine deficiency. Also when a woman with iodine deficiency gets pregnant, she is actually risking a miscarriage, stillbirth, and mental retardation in her child.

Even what’s considered a mild iodine deficiency can slow down the growth of the child’s brain, reduce their IQ, and cause learning disabilities. Let it be known that the World Health Organization estimates that about one billion people around the world are at risk of health problems due to iodine deficiency. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, as many as 25 percent of the population, with a population of almost 200 million people, are at greater risk of goiter, at minimum. The article to the left can give us a general idea of the importance in why women need to have a strong iodine diet.

As previously stated the most important concern is the fact that the percentage of iodine deficient pregnant women has increased from 1% in 1974 to 7% in 1994 and to who knows how much today. The credit here, though, is given to Bernard Courtois who was the first to discover iodine in 1811. This discovery was unintended and he had been working with seawater to extract sodium carbonate. He had not measured his chemicals correctly, and ended up producing a purple vapor which quickly crystallized into iodine. In other words he was trying to make saltpeter (potassium nitrate [KNO3]), hich is a major factor in gunpowder. During this time, Napoleon had engaged France in a series of wars and the army at the time needed an abundant quantity of gunpowder but supplies were running short. Regardless of this, in the process of making saltpeter, excess sulfur compounds were create forcing them to add sulfuric acid to the mixture to clean the compounds from their containers. Courtois accidentally added too much acid one day, in which a violet vapor cloud appeared and reduced onto the colder, metal objects forming shiny crystals.

Courtois then realized he’d created something new; he performed a few minor experiments with this new substance and noted that it combined well with phosphorous, hydrogen, and a few metals, but did not combine easily with oxygen or carbon. Furthermore, he discovered that it was quite explosive when mixed with ammonia and did not decompose when burned. Due to Napoleon’s pushing of the government’s funds to bankruptcy, Courtios had no funding leading him to experiment no further. At this, he turned his discovery over to a French chemist by the name of Charles- Bernard Desormes who performed the scientific investigation for this new element.

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