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USES OF RADIOISOTOPES

 

ISOTOPE

EMISSIONS

HALF-LIFE

USES

Americium-241 (Am-241)

alpha, gamma

432 years

Smoke detectors, thickness gauges, analysis

Americium-241 /beryllium (Am-241/Be)

alpha, gamma, neutrons

432 years

Help determine where oil wells should be drilled; determine moisture in soil in neutron gauging.

Cadmium-109

(Cd-109)

gamma

462 days

Analyse metal alloys for checking stock and sorting scrap.

Calcium-47

(Ca-47)

beta, gamma

4.54 days

Aid to biomedical researchers

Californium-252

(Cf-252)

alpha, gamma, neutrons

2.6 years

Measure the mineral content of coal ash and the moisture of materials stored in silos.

Carbon-11

(C-11)

positrons

20.38 minutes

In Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to study brain physiology

Carbon-14

(C-14)

 

beta

5,730 years

Research to ensure that potential new drugs are metabolized without forming harmful by-products.

Cesium-137

(Cs-137)

 

beta, gamma

30 years

Treat cancers; calibrate equipment used to measure correct patient dosages of radioactive pharmaceuticals; measure and control the liquid flow in oil pipelines; tell researchers whether oil wells are plugged by sand; ensure the right fill level for packages of food, drugs and other products

Chromium-51

(Cr-51)

gamma

27.7 days

Label red blood cells

Cobalt-60

(Co-60)

 

beta, gamma

5.3 years

Sterilize surgical instruments; improve the safety and reliability of industrial fuel oil burners; preserve poultry, fruits
and spices, industrial radiography

Copper-64

(Cu-64)

beta, gamma, positrons

12.58 hours

Study genetic disease affecting copper metabolism.

Copper-67

(Cu-67)

beta, gamma

61.7 hours

Helps antibodies bind to and destroy tumours

Curium-244

(Cm-244)

 

alpha, gamma

18.1 years

Analyse material excavated from pits and slurries from drilling operations.

Fluorine-18

(F-18)

positrons

1.83 hours

In Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to study brain physiology

Gallium-67

(Ga-67)

gamma

3.26 days

Imaging to detect tumours and infections.

Gold-198

(Au-198)

 

beta, gamma

2.7 days

Trace factory waste causing ocean pollution, trace sand movement in river beds and on ocean floors.

Iodine-123

(I-123)

gamma

13.2 hours

Diagnose thyroid disorders

Iodine-131

(I-131)

beta, gamma

8 days

Diagnose and treat thyroid disorders

 

Iridium-192

(Ir-192)

 

beta, gamma

74 days

Test the integrity of pipeline welds, boilers and aircraft parts; supplied in wire form for use as an internal radiotherapy source.

Iron-55 (Fe-55)

gamma

2.7 years

Analyse electroplating solutions

Krypton-85

(Kr-85)

 

beta, gamma

10.7 years

Indicator lights in appliances like clothes washers and dryers, stereos and coffeemakers; gauge the thickness of thin plastics, sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper; measure dust and pollutant levels.

Molybdenum-99

(Mo-99)

 

beta, gamma

2.8 days

The ‘parent’ in a generator to produce technetium-99m, the most widely

used isotope in nuclear medicine.

Nickel-63

(Ni-63)

beta

101.1 years

Detect explosives and as voltage regulators and current surge protectors in electronic devices.

Nitrogen-13

(N-13)

positrons

9.97 minutes

In Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to study brain physiology

Oxygen-15

(O-15)

positrons, gamma

2.04 minutes

In Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to study brain physiology

Phosphorus-32

(P-32)

beta

14.3 days

In molecular biology and genetics research

Samarium-153

(Sm-153)

beta, gamma

46.7 hours

R educe the pain associated with bony metastases of primary tumours.

Sodium-24

(Na-24)

beta, gamma

15 hours

Locate leaks in industrial pipelines and in oil well studies.

Technetium-99m

(Tc-99m)

 

gamma

6.0 hours

The most widely used radioactive isotope for diagnostic studies in
nuclear medicine

Thallium-201

(Tl-201)

gamma

3.04 days

Imaging to detect the location of damaged heart muscle.

Thallium-204

(Tl-204)

 

beta

3.78 years

Measures the dust and pollutant levels on filter paper and gauges the thickness of plastics, sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper.

Tritium

(H-3)

beta

12.3 years

In self-luminous aircraft and commercial exit signs

Tritiated water

(H-3 in water)

beta

12.3 years

As a tracer to study sewage and liquid wastes.

Ytterbium-169

(Yb-169)

gamma

32.0 days

In industrial radiography.

Yttrium-90 (Y-90)

beta

2.67 days

Liver cancer therapy.

Xenon-133

(Xe-133)

beta, gamma

5.2 days

In nuclear medicine for lung ventilation and blood flow studies.

Zinc-65

(Zn-65)

 

gamma

244 days

T o predict the behaviour of heavy metal components in effluents from mining waste water.