Here’s just a sampling of radioactive materials…and the many ways they improve lives.
Americium -241: Used in many smoke detectors for homes and business…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.
Cadmium -109: Used to analyze metal alloys for checking stock, sorting scrap.
Calcium – 47: Important aid to biomedical researchers studying the cell function and bone formation of mammals.
Californium – 252: Used to inspect airline luggage for hidden explosives…to gauge the moisture content of soil in the road construction and building industries…and to measure the moisture of materials stored in silos.
Carbon – 14: Helps in research to ensure that potential new drugs are metabolized without forming harmful by-products.
Cesium – 137: Used to treat cancers…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.)
Chromium – 51: Used in research in red blood cell survival studies.
Cobalt – 57: Used in nuclear medicine to help physicians interpret diagnosis scans of patients’ organs, and to diagnose pernicious anemia.
Cobalt – 60 : Used to sterilize surgical instruments…to improve the safety and reliability of industrial fuel oil burners…and to preserve poultry fruits and spices.
Copper – 67: When injected with monoclonal antibodies into a cancer patient, helps the antibodies bind to and destroy the tumor.
Curium – 244: Used in mining to analyze material excavated from pits slurries from drilling operations.
Iodine – 123: Widely used to diagnose thyroid disorders.
Iodine – 129: Used to check some radioactivity counters in vitro diagnostic testing laboratories.
Iodine – 131: Used to diagnose and treat thyroid disorders. (Former President George Bush and Mrs. Bush were both successfully treated for Grave’s disease, a thyroid disease, with radioactive iodine.)
Iridium – 192: Used to test the integrity of pipeline welds, boilers and aircraft parts.
Iron – 55: Used to analyze electroplating solutions.
Krypton – 85: Used in indicator lights in appliances like clothes washer and dryers, stereos and coffee makers…to gauge the thickness of thin plastics and sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper…and to measure dust and pollutant levels.
Nickel – 63: Used to detect explosives…and as voltage regulators and current surge protectors in electronic devices.
Phosphorus – 32: Used in molecular biology and genetics research.
Plutonium – 238: Has safely powered at least 20 NASA spacecraft since 1972.
Polonium – 210: Reduces the static charge in production of photographic film and phonograph records.
Promethium – 147: Used in electric blanket thermostats…and to gauge the thickness of thin plastics, thin sheet metal, rubber, textiles, and paper.
Radium – 226: Makes lightning rods more effective.
Selenium – 75: Used in protein studies in life science research.
Sodium – 24: Used to locate leaks in industrial pipelines…and in oil well studies.
Strontium – 85: Used to study bone formation and metabolism.
Technetium – 99m: The most widely used radioactive isotope for diagnostic studies in nuclear medicine. Different chemical forms are used for brain, bone, liver, spleen and kidney imaging and also for blood flow studies.
Thallium – 204: Measures the dust and pollutant levels on filter paper…and gauges the thickness of plastics, sheet metal, rubber, textiles and paper.
Thoriated tungsten: Used in electric are welding rods in the construction, aircraft, petrochemical and food processing equipment industries. It produces easier starting, greater arc stability and less metal contamination.
Thorium – 229: Helps fluorescent lights to last longer.
Thorium – 230: Provides coloring and fluorescence in colored glazes and glassware.
Tritium: Used for life science and drug metabolism studies to ensure the safety of potential new drugs… for self-luminous aircraft and commercial exit signs… for luminous dials, gauges and wrist watches…and to produce luminous paint.
Uranium – 234: Used in dental fixtures like crowns and dentures to provide a natural color and brightness.
Uranium – 235: Fuel for nuclear power plants and naval nuclear propulsion systems…also used to produce fluorescent glassware, a variety of colored glazes and wall tiles.
Xenon – 133: Used in nuclear medicine for lung ventilation and blood flow studies.