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Is Heavy Water Radioactive?


This is the three-dimensional structure of heavy water.

This is the three-dimensional structure of heavy water.

Ben Mills

Question: Is Heavy Water Radioactive?

Heavy water contains deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen with a proton and a neutron for each deuterium atom. Is this a radioactive isotope? Is heavy water radioactive?

Answer: Heavy water is much like ordinary water. In fact, one in twenty-million water molecules is a heavy water molecule. Heavy water is made from oxygen bonded to one or more deuterium atoms. If both hydrogen atoms are deuterium then the formula for heavy water is D2O. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen which has one proton and one neutron. The most common isotope of hydrogen, protium, consists of a lone proton. Deuterium is a stable isotope, so it is not radioactive. Similarly, deuterated or heavy water is not radioactive.

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