The risk associated with radioactive materials depends on the amount of exposure.
Being exposed to highly radioactive materials or being exposed to radioactive materials for long periods of time or on a regular basis increases the dose received which, in turn, increases the risk.
Given that radioactive materials are hazardous, certain precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of using radioactive sources.
- wearing protective clothing to prevent the body becoming contaminated should radioactive isotopes leak out and also to protect against absorbing radiation e.g. a lead apron, face masks, etc;
- avoiding contact with bare skin;
- keeping the source as far away from the body as possible by using tongs;
- not attempting to taste or smell the sources;
- being exposed to the source for as short a time as possible;
- keeping radioactive materials in lead-lined containers;
- monitoring exposure times using detector badges, etc.