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Radioactivity in consumer products

Radioactivity in consumer products

The use of radioactive substances in consumer products is restricted by radiation legislation. However, some products may contain small quantities of radioactive substances that may have been added for properties such as heat resistance, refractive index or colour. For example, radioactivity may be present in some watches, compasses, lamps and jewellery.

Properties can be achieved by the addition of artificial radioactive substances such as promethium-147, krypton-85 or americium-241, or natural radioactive substances such as uranium-238, uranium-235, thorium-232 and their decay products and potassium-40.

Restrictions on the use of radioactive substances in products (Link)

Regulation of radiating products

Depending on the radioactivity of the product, it will determine how they are regulated and whether there are requirements or restrictions on their use, import or disposal as waste. This page contains information on radioactive consumer products and some other radioactive materials with which consumers may encounter.

Uranium and thorium are nuclear materials subject to international safeguards and holders are generally subject to extensive accounting and reporting obligations. However, small quantities of uranium and thorium in utility items and equipment are, in principle, excluded from international safeguards. However, the import and possession of semifinished products and raw materials containing uranium and thorium require notification to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). STUK will provide the notifier with a copy of the declaration for the customs authorities, if necessary. The copy is marked to indicate that the import does not require a licence under the Nuclear Energy Act.

In case of doubt, further information can be obtained from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority's Safeguards Office: safeguards (at)
Customs notifies the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority if radiating products or materials are detected at the Finnish borders.
Some foods can be irradiated to improve their shelf life, such as spices. Irradiated foods are safe. More information on food irradiation can be found on the Food Safety Authority's website. Information is in FInnish. 

Frequently asked questions about radioactivity in consumer products

What else may contain radioactive material