Isotopes in Industry

Isotopes have a variety of applications in industry to list a few:
Leakages by detection of a scintillation counter, very useful if there is a gamma source underground. However it is important to remember that although gamma radiation is highly penetrating, it is very weakly ionising.
A common radioisotope in industry is Sodium-24
Sodium-24 is used generally in the detection of leakages. It is first created through neutron bombardment of Sodium-23, which decays with the release of an electron and anti-neutrino to Sodium-24. Na-24 is used primarily in the detection of water leakages in damaged water pipelines.

Advantages of using Sodium-24

  • Sodium-24 is non-toxic to humans or animals and although it may form organic compounds absorbed into the blood stream, this will not unduly affect the health of humans or animals absorbing Sodium-24 in general due to a variety of other factors such as its life span and low intensity emission of gamma radiation.
  • Sodium-24 is a beta and low intensity gamma emitter, no radiation will be detected if the pipe has not sprung a leak as it will not emit radiation penetrating the pipe's thick walls, (beta radiation may be blocked by something as thin as paper), in most instances beta radiation cannot penetrate the skin.
  • Sodium-24 being a beta radiator may potentially be harmful to animal and humans if ingested or directly injected into the bloodstream. However having a short life span of roughly 15 hours, Sodium-24 does not pose a direct threat to any humans or animals.

Disadvantages of using Sodium-24

  • Sodium-24 is non-naturally occurring radioisotope, it relies on commercial production in nuclear reactors and poses the same threats that nuclear reactors have. i.e. nuclear fallout and disasters.
  • Having a short lifespan also prevents the area of testing from being very far from the source.
  • Radioisotopes have long term effects and implications to workers handling the substance, without proper care in transportation and handling Sodium24 can cause biological damage, which may result in tissue damage or cancer.

In conclusion:

Sodium-24 is a very effective means of detecting leakages in the industry, although suffering from some minor disadvantages, it does not detract from its ability to efficiently provide assistance to detection of leakages in the industry and is certainly valuable assistance in the industry.

More info about radioisotopes here: