Cross section of radioisotope packaging, lead / plastic / foam / vermiculite / cardboard / glass, made by Australian Radioisotopes, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1958-1998
This object is an example of how radioactive isotopes are safely packaged and transported for medical use.
ANSTO has developed a new range of easier to use packaging that reduces potential radiation doses to handlers of nuclear medicines.
New lead pots have been produced in an easily handled, rounded triangular form. The enclosed vial stands above the surface of the opened pot, permitting faster removal and replacement, reducing exposure to its radioactive contents. In addition lead pots have also been encased in heavy-duty plastic, instead of the older style painted containers which can ship, exposing the user to bare lead.
Plastic pails have replaced cartons in which the pots were sealed and transported. Each has a tamper-evident seal, which must be broken to allow its lid to be removed. Custom cut foam blocks in which the lead pot is placed have replaced vermiculite that was used as packaging. The new packaging materials are all fully recyclable.
The design of this older style packaging represents a stage in the technology of transporting and delivering radioisotopes to medical users.
Written by Erika Dicker
Assistant Curator, 2007.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) distribute and manufacture these containers under the Australian Radioisotopes tradename.
The lead in the packaging shields a user from the radiation emitted by the isotope. Lead is a particularly effective radiation shield because lead has a high atomic number of 82 and its many electrons absorb the gamma and x rays. Lead is also a commonly occurring element in a predominance of stable isotopes.