Radiation Safety Data Sheets - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This guideline contains a list of links to the Radiation Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for unsealed radioisotopes commonly used in appropriately certified radiation laboratories within UQ. The UQ Radiation Protection Advisor has developed these SDSs from the relevant regulatory requirements as an aid for users at UQ.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Alpha emitter - a radioactive substance that decays by emitting alpha particles, considered to be higher in energy than beta emitters.

Beta emitter - a radioactive substance that emits beta particles, which are high speed electron or positrons emitted by the nucleus during radioactive decay.

Gamma emitter - gamma rays, electromagnetic radiation of extremely high frequency and energy.

X-ray - a form of electromagnetic radiation, with wavelengths shorter than UV rays and longer than gamma rays.

Radionucleotide – An unstable form of a chemical element that radioactively decays, resulting in the emission of nuclear radiation, also called a radioisotope.

SDS - Safety Data Sheet

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

The safety data sheets provided in this guideline contain information on isotope half-life, radiations emitted, safety precautions, radio-toxicity, licencing requirements and disposal. They are for the most commonly used isotopes within UQ laboratories. For SDSs on other isotopes, contact the UQ Radiation Protection Advisor.

4. Guidelines Statement

The safety data sheets provided within this guideline have been produced with the relevant information from the Queensland Radiation Regulations 2010 and other relevant sources. These isotopes are often used as tracers and used in very dilute solutions. Most of these isotopes have short half-lives. Work with these isotopes must be performed in laboratories certified for use with unsealed sources. Users must meet regulatory requirements (e.g. user licences, approval to acquire etc) as detailed in PPL 2.80.02 Regulatory Requirements for Research Projects using Radiation Sources.

5. Safety Data Sheets for Commonly Used Radioisotopes

Click on the isotope name to obtain its Safety Data Sheet in PDF format.

Name Isotope Emitter type
Carbon 14 C-14 / 14C beta
Calcium 45 Ca-45 / 45Ca beta
Cadmium 109 Cd-109 / 109Cd X-ray
Chlorine 31 Cl-31 / 36Cl beta
Cobalt 57 Co-57 / 57Co low energy X-rays and gamma rays
Chromium 51 Cr-51 / 51Cr low energy X-rays and gamma rays
Copper 64 Cu-64 / 64Cu beta particles and gamma rays
Iron 55 Fe-55 / 55Fe weak x-rays (and auger electrons)
Iron 59 Fe-59 / 59Fe beta emitter and strong gamma rays
Tritium H-3 / 3H weak beta emitter
Iodine 125 I-125 / 125I weak x-rays
Magnesium 54 Mn-54 / 54Mn weak x-rays and strong gamma rays
Phosphorous 32 P-32 / 32P beta
Phosphorous 33 P-33 / 33P beta
Rubidium 86 Rb-86 / 86Rb beta
Sodium 22 Na-22 / 22Na beta
Sulphur 35 S-35 / 35S beta
Technetium 99 Tc-99m / 99m weak gamma emitter
Uranium natural U-234, 235,238, Th-234, Pa-234m alpha
Uranium chemicals Uranium chem alpha
Zinc 65 Zn-65 / 65Zn strong gamma emitter


6. A Note on NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material)

NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) is the term used to describe materials containing radionucleotides that exist in the natural environment. Examples are uranium ores and thorium in the form of mineral sands.

They include the following radionucleotides:

  • Long-lived radionuclides such as uranium-238 (U-238), uranium-235 (U-235) and thorium-232 (Th-232), and their radioactive decay products (such as isotopes of radium, radon, polonium, bismuth and lead), and
  • Individual long-lived radionuclides such as potassium-40 (K-40), rubidium-87 (Rb-87) and indium-115 (In-115).

7.Contact for Further Information

Contact your local Radiation Safety Officer, or

OHS Division Radiation Protection Advisor

Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael