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Category of radioactive sources

The categories for radioactive sources are defined by the IAEA's Code of Conduct to help ensure that radioactive sources are used within an appropriate framework of radiation safety and security.

  • Category 1 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, would be likely to cause permanent injury to a person who handled them or was otherwise in contact with them for more than a few minutes. It would probably be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded material for a period of a few minutes to an hour. These sources are typically used in practices such as radiothermal generators, irradiators, and radiation teletherapy.
  • Category 2 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them or was otherwise in contact with them for a short time (minutes to hours). It could possibly be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of hours to days. These sources are typically used in practices such as industrial gamma radiography, high dose rate brachytherapy and medium dose rate brachytherapy.
  • Category 3 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them or was otherwise in contact with them for some hours. It could possibly -- although it is unlikely -- be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of days to weeks. These sources are typically used in practices such as fixed industrial gauges involving high activity sources (for example, level gauges, dredger gauges, conveyor gauges, and spinning pipe gauges) and well logging.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, July 06, 2018