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I'm not sure I'd call plutonium metal "not that dangerous" - it is pretty toxic, can catch fire spontaneously and once if does catch fire you have to be really careful trying to put the fire out. There is an excellent book on the history of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver that describes some of the problems with handling plutonium on an industrial scale:

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Real-Killing-Rocky-Nuclear/dp/0...

Edit: Of course these things are relative. I guess compared to chemicals like chlorine trifluoride or FOOF it is pretty tame from a chemical perspective:

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2008/02/26/sand_wont_sa...




Well yes. What I meant to say was that in trace amounts in the atmosphere Plutonium isn't terribly dangerous. When you're working with bulk metal there are heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity concerns, of course, and if you're working with powder or fines then that can be particularly dangerous in terms of radioactivity exposure (because Plutonium in your lungs is pretty much where it can do the most damage).

But compared to fission byproducts like I-131 or Sr-90 which are both crazy radioactive and eagerly taken up by your body and placed into your bones and your thyroid, Plutonium barely registers.




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