If you found a suspicious item (especially metal) with a radiation warning sign on it, BE CAREFUL: it may be an “orphan” source of ionizing radiation (IRS)!

What are “orphan” radioactive sources?

Radioactive sources are often used in industry, medicine, for military and scientific purposes.

If radioactive sources have not been timely registered, have been stolen, lost, transferred without relevant official permit, they would be considered as “orphan”.

Such sources may have different appearance, often they are placed into metal containers. So, it may be difficult to identify them even using special equipment. Sometimes, glowing in the dark may be a feature of radioactivity of an item.

Illicit possession or selling of radioactive sources may result in criminal responsibility, namely imprisonment up to eight years.

100% efforts of illicit selling of radioactive sources in Ukraine are repressed by law enforcement authorities.

IRS are marked by the following signs:

The signs given below are placed on containers or equipment with radioactive materials. Such signs may be in form of labels, tables or engravings on metal. Unfortunately, in some cases marking and colors may be lost or washed away, but still be attentive and careful!

“Trefoil” is an official international symbol of radiation which is used for marking of sources, containers or devices. Except symbol of trefoil, there also may be a word “radioactive”. Other inscriptions with information on radioactive intensity or type of protective container may be placed on some containers used for transportation of sources.
One more symbol warning on radiation hazard. It is a red triangle with waves of radiation, a skull and a human who runs away. The sign is implemented by the IAEA in 2007 as an addition to traditional international symbol of radiation hazard in form of black and yellow trefoil.

IRS: Danger to life:

  • Ionizing radiation from radioactive sources is extremely dangerous for health and even life.
  • Human does not feel radiation impact in the moment of exposure during contact with “orphan” radioactive source.
  • Direct contact with radioactive source leads to radiation injuries of different degrees, even to death. Radioactive injuries may cause cancer, genetic defects.
  • Children are especially sensitive to radiation impact.
  • If you get into contact with radioactive source, you should immediately attend a medical institution and undergo relevant examination.

It is important to remember:

If you found a suspicious item, keep following advices:

  • don’t touch it;
  • keep the maximum possible distance from this item;
  • if possible, ensure a shield made of concrete or metal between such an item and people;
  • warn other on danger;
  • inform authorities and law enforcement bodies.

“Orphan” sources may be as follows:

Clock and altitude meter with luminescent paint which includes radioactive material (Radium 226)
RIO-3 type ice detector with radioactive material (Strontium 90)
Gamma flaw detector with a radioactive source inside
Lead container with a radioactive source inside (Cesium 137)
Traverses with luminescent paint which includes radioactive material (Radium 226)

In case of finding of “orphan” radioactive source you should immediately inform following institutions:

Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine:
(044) 256-03-33
State Emergency Service of Ukraine:
(044) 247-32-11 (day and night)
State Inspections on Nuclear and Radiation Safety:
Northern (067) 695 53 50
Southern (067) 695 53 25
South-Eastern (097)  583 02 54
North-Western (067) 695 53 61
Western (067) 695 53 47
Central (067) 695 53 74
Crimean (067) 695 53 30
Eastern (067) 695 53 58
Duty officer (044) 277-12-12
(day and night)