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Applications of radioisotopes in Medicine

1. To diagnose of thyroid disease using iodine-123.

2. To treat an overactive thyroid gland and certain kinds of thyroid cancer by using
sodium iodide labelled with radioactive iodine.
3. To detect position of blood clots or thrombosis using Sodium-24 injected in the
4. To detect and treat brain tumor using phosphorus-32
5. To study the circulation of iron in the blood using iron-59
6. To sterilise medical equipments and to destroy cancer cells in radiotherapy
radioisotope cobalt-60 is used.
Applications of radioisotopes in Industries
1. The thickness of paper, plastics, clothes and metal sheets need to be standardised
and this is done by placing a raioactive source at one side of the material and a
detector on the other side.
2. For sheets of metal, gamma ray is used. For plastics, clothes and paper, beta
particles are used.
3. The detector will register a higher count if the material is too thin and lower
register if too thick. The computer will make adjustments according to the thickness
of the material.
4. This mechanism is also used to ensure that containers such as cans and food
packages are filled to the specified amount.
5. Radioisotope is added to engine oil so that its level of wear and tear can be
6. In order to kill germs that cause food to spoil quickly, gamma rays are used.
7. If exposed to gamma ray, latex becomes harder without the need for adding
Applications of radioisotopes in Agriculture
1. Pests can be killed using radioactive rays esp using gamma rays.
2. To stop pests from reproducing, induced mutation by using gamma rays can be
employed. But this has the probability of producing GMO and resistant pests.
3. To be used as tracers in the effectiveness of fertilisers using nitrogen-15 and
phosphorus -32.
4. To induce genetic mutation in a plant in order to produce a better strain which has
higher resistance against pest and diseases.
Applications of radioisotopes in Archaeology
1. To determine the age of artifacts, the carbon dating method is used.
Consider this paragraph:

Cosmic radiations from outer space displaced neutrons from nuclei in the Earth's outer
atmosphere. These neutrons then collide with nitrogen nuclei to produce carbon-14.
Living organisms like plants and animals absorb and give out carbon-14 when they are
alive. The half-life of carbon-14 is about 5730 years. So there is negligible
disintegration over the lifetime of most organisms. However when they die, no more
absorption of carbon-14 occurs. The C-14 taken starts to decay into N-14 by beta
emission. The percentage of carbon 14 in dead plant decreases as the carbon 14
disintegrates. After 5730 years, the percentage of carbon 14 falls to 50 percent of its
initial value. The activity of atoms is proportional to the number of undecayed atoms.
By comparing the activity of the dead sample of the same mass of the living sample,
its age can be estimated.
2. To measure geological time.
During the formation of rocks, some radioisotopes such as uranium-238 are trapped. As
the decay continues, the proportion of uranium-238 decreases slowly resulting in the
equally slow growth of its product lead-206. An estimate of the age of the rock can be
inferred from the relative proportions of lead and uranium in the rock.