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.



Emitter type

Carbon 14

C-14 / 14C


Calcium 45

Ca-45 / 45Ca


Cadmium 109

Cd-109 / 109Cd


Chlorine 31

Cl-31 / 36Cl


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


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


Phosphorous 33

P-33 / 33P


Rubidium 86

Rb-86 / 86Rb


Sodium 22

Na-22 / 22Na


Sulphur 35

S-35 / 35S


Technetium 99

Tc-99m / 99m

weak gamma emitter

Uranium natural

U-234, 235,238, Th-234, Pa-234m


Uranium chemicals

Uranium chem


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

HSW Division Radiation Protection Advisor

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