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Thus, the mixture taken as a whole will not decay by halves.

A biological half-life or elimination half-life is the time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose one-half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiological activity.

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In a medical context, the half-life may also describe the time that it takes for the concentration of a substance in blood plasma to reach one-half of its steady-state value (the "plasma half-life").

The relationship between the biological and plasma half-lives of a substance can be complex, due to factors including accumulation in tissues, active metabolites, and receptor interactions.

Mathematically, the sum of two exponential functions is not a single exponential function.

A common example of such a situation is the waste of nuclear power stations, which is a mix of substances with vastly different half-lives.

In other words, the probability of a radioactive atom decaying within its half-life is 50%.