APPENDIX 1F Safe Use of Radioisotopes

  1. Jill Meisenhelder,
  2. Steve Bursik

Published Online: 1 JUL 2007

DOI: 10.1002/0471142727.mba01fs79

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

How to Cite

Meisenhelder, J. and Bursik, S. 2007. Safe Use of Radioisotopes. Current Protocols in Molecular Biology. 79:1F:A.1F.1–A.1F.18.

Author Information

  1. The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUL 2007
  2. Published Print: JUL 2007


The pursuit of scientific knowledge has been considerably advanced by the use of biochemical molecules that incorporate radioisotopes at specific sites. The fate of these labeled molecules, and/or the radiolabeled products that result from biochemical reactions in which the parent molecule was involved, can be traced using a variety of instruments that detect radioactivity. This appendix begins with a discussion of the principles of radioactivity in order to provide the reader/user with knowledge on which to base a common sense approach to the safe use of isotopes. The characteristics of isotopes most commonly used in a molecular biology laboratory are then detailed, as well as the safety precautions and monitoring methods peculiar to each one. Detection and imaging methods used in experimental analysis are reviewed. Finally, an outline of an orderly response to a spill of radioactive material is presented. Curr. Protoc. Mol. Biol. 79:A.1F.1-A.1F.18. © 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • radiation safety;
  • radioactivity;
  • isotopes;
  • decay;
  • shielding;
  • monitoring;
  • exposure;
  • dosimeter