Radioisotopes Commonly Used in Devices by Industry
Radiation Source Reduction & Management
- Main Page
- About Source Reduction & Management
- Life-Cycle Analysis & Product Stewardship
- Sealed Radioactive Sources
- Common Industrial Uses
- Commonly-Used Radionuclides
- Alternative Technologies
- Alternatives: Development & Acceptance
- Alternative Technology Projects
- Stakeholders and Partners
Radiation sources provide critical capabilities in the oil and gas, electrical power (utilities) construction, manufacturing and food industries. They are used to treat millions of patients each year in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and also are used in a variety of military applications. In addition, academic, government, and private institutions use radioactive sources in technology research and development. These materials are as diverse in geographic location as they are in functional use. From transmittal letter to President of EPACT Radioactive Source Protection and Security Task Force Report
The radionuclides most commonly used in industry are listed below:
Used in many smoke detectors for homes and businesses to measure levels of toxic lead in dried paint samples, to ensure uniform thickness in rolling processes like steel and paper production, and to help determine where oil wells should be drilled
Used to analyze metal alloys for checking stock and scrap sorting.
Used to inspect airline luggage for hidden explosives, to gauge moisture content of soil in the road construction and building industries, and to measure the moisture of materials stored in soils.
Used as an important research tool. In pharmaceutical research it is used as a tracer to ensure that potential drugs are metabolized without forming harmful by-products. It is also used in biological research, agriculture, pollution control, and archeology.
Used to treat cancerous tumors, to measure correct patient dosages of radioactive pharmaceuticals, to measure and control the liquid flow in oil pipelines, to tell researchers whether oil wells are plugged by sand, and to ensure the right fill level for packages of food, drugs, and other products. (The products in these packages do not become radioactive.)
Used to sterilize surgical instruments, and to improve the safety and reliability of industrial fuel oil burners. Used in cancer treatment, food irradiation, gauges, and radiography.
Used in mining to analyze material excavated from pits and slurries from drilling operations.
Used to test the integrity of pipeline welds, boilers and aircraft parts and in brachytherapy/tumor irradiation.
Used to analyze electroplating solutions and to detect the presence of sulphur in the air. Used in metabolism research.
Used in indicator lights in appliances such as clothes washers and dryers, stereos, and coffee makers; used to gauge the thickness of thin plastics and sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper, and to measure dust and pollutant levels.
Used to detect explosives, and in voltage regulators and current surge protectors in electronic devices, and in electron capture detectors for gas chromatographs.
Has powered more than 20 NASA spacecraft since 1972.
Reduces the static charge in production of photographic film and other materials.
Used in electric blanket thermostats, and to gauge thickness of thin plastics, thin sheet metal, rubber, textile and paper.
Makes lighting rods more effective.
Used to locate leaks in industrial pipelines, and in oil well studies.
Used in survey meters by schools, the military and emergency management authorities. Also used in cigarette manufacturing sensors and medical treatment.
Measures the dust and pollutant levels on filter paper, and gauges the thickness of plastics, sheet metal, rubber, textiles, and paper.
Used in electric arc welding rods in construction, aircraft, petrochemical and food processing equipment industries. They produce easier starting, greater arc stability and less metal contamination.
Helps fluorescent lights last longer.
Provides coloring and fluorescence in colored glazes and glassware.
Tritium (H3);Used in self-luminous aircraft and commercial exit signs, for luminous dials, gauges and wrist watches, to produce luminous paint, and for geological prospecting and hydrology.
Fuel for nuclear power plants and naval nuclear propulsion systems, and used to produce fluorescent glassware, a variety of colored glazes, and wall tiles.
From The Regulation and Use of Radioisotopes in Today’s World (NUREG/BR-0217, Rev. 1), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.