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The number of electrons in an electrically neutral atom determines the chemical properties of that atom. It is therefore essential to know the number of electrons in each atom, which can be determined from its atomic number (Z). The atomic number determines which orbitals an electron can occupy, and the order in which it can occupy them, based on the Pauli exclusion principle. In addition, the number of electrons in an atom’s valence shell, namely the outermost electron shell, is responsible for the chemical bonding between atoms and thus determines the properties of a solid or liquid.

The element astatine has a number of valence electrons equal to 85, which makes it the last element in group 17 and period 6 in the periodic table. It was first isolated by R. Corson,R. MacKenzie and Emilio Segre in year 1940 at University of California, Berkeley. It is radioactive and has several isotopes, with the most stable being 210At, which has a half-life of 8.3 hours. It is rare in nature and only occurs in minuscule quantities in the environment. It may be found in the thyroid gland like iodine.

The element astatine can form several different binary compounds with halogens, oxygen and hydrogen. It also forms ionic compounds with other metals and non-metals. It is very reactive and requires special handling techniques. It can cause harmful effects when inhaled or swallowed and is toxic to humans. It can also be corrosive to skin and eyes.