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.

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 substances that 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 semi-finished 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 license under the Nuclear Energy Act 

If the case is uncertain, more information is available from STUK's Safeguards Office: [email protected]

Customs notifies STUK 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 safe handling of food can be found on the Finnish Food Authority's website.

Radioactive substances in consumer products

What else may contain radioactive material