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Question about check sources

Posted: 19 May 2017, 01:34
by ZeeCaptain

i am new to gamma rey spectroscopy and currently i am building my setup for some quantitative analyzes but i do not have any check sources with known activities.
What i got: Cs-137 Spark Gap, Th-232 mantle and some uraniumglass. Maybe i could get some radium too.

I want to buy a set like this: ... cts_id=474

With: Ba-133, Cd-109, Co-57, Co-60, Cs-137, Mn-54, Na-22 and Cs/Zn.

Is this a good general purpose set i could use for energy and efficiency callibration?
Are there any alternatives/what check sources are good to start with (beside a Cs-137)?

And do you know any (cheap) sources for check sources here in europe? (The set above is a bit pricey for a student like me and i would guess that the shipping is verz expensive too.)

In germany the only supplier wants nearly 600$ for one source and that is way too expensive for me.

greetings from germany


Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 19 May 2017, 09:41
by Steven Sesselmann

I don't know any suppliers in Europe, but we usually recommend Spectrum Techniques in the US. They ship worldwide and follow accepted international shipping procedures for active sources. Their web site is a bit primitive, I think you have to print out the order form and complete it by hand (if you have never done something like that before you can ask an older person to help you :D ) ... urce-sets/


Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 19 May 2017, 18:20
by luuk
Hello Felix,

It is not easy to buy sources in Europe there are some companies but prices are for professionals and not for hobby interesting, so buying online from the USA will be the most easy and cheapest way.


There is a other question, the list of sources you would like to have looks nice and is interesting but, I think not very practical some sources have a very sort half life e.g. Mn-54 =312 day’s, Cd-109 = 1.2 year that is not a good buy in my opinion.
You have to consider what you want to measure and with you 38x57 detector you cannot see Beta’s or Alpha’s, so Gamma sources are the most logic choice, special the ones that have a longer life time e.g. Co60/Cs137/Co57.
The thumb rule is: that after 10 life times the source is completely dead no matter what the original strength was so after 5 life times you will have a very difficult time to measure it, you will need a good lead shielding to see what is left of the source.

If you are interested I have some contaminated Fukushima soil you can a few grams for experiments it contains Cs-137 and Cs-134.


Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 19 May 2017, 21:52
by MartinM
Also make sure to check you local laws what limits are allowed for shipping/possession of radioactive materials without license or the need to notify respective local authorities. Sources shipped from SpecTech have different activities and some like Cs-137 0.25 uCi are designed to be within exempt limits (10 kBq for Cs-137). In EU, IAEA TS-R-1 and IATA 4.2 and regulations should apply.
So first make sure what limits are allowed, as I think such a complete set might violate them.

Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 22 May 2017, 02:00
by sgt_bear

Since i live in europe (switzerland) too, i might can help.

First of all, your main problem will be the ADR-Regulation, if you reach a combined value of isotopes that is over the possible ADR value, the package is "dangerous goods" eg. UN2910. Since ADR Regulation requieres transport-papers (the easy ones, you can do yourself), the postal services will not make the effort, and so on refuse to transport. Sure, an expensive standart-delivery truck service can do it, but they likely charge around 200€ depending where you live.

First of all, you have to check the german exempt quanties for radioactive material, they can be found here. ... gesamt.pdf

The region of interest will be on page 81 and following, the table1 , Cell number 2 (Aktivität in Bq). If a isotope is below this value, you can have it, if its over it, you need a permission!

Next point is ADR (transportation of dangerous goods).

ADR - Link ... 5e_WEB.pdf

See table "" on Page 231
The "Acitvity limit for an EXEMPT consigment" is relevant (dont confuse exempt and excepted in the document" is the one you are looking for

lets make a example:

Co-60 : 1E5Bq = 2.7uCi
Cs-137 : 1E4 Bq = 0.27uCi

This would mean you can either send 2.7uCi of Co-60 or 0.27uCi of Cs-137 in a package, BUT not both in the same package!!

If you send multiple isotopes in a package, the total value of activity must be smaller than "1" when mixing nucleides. Here is an example how to calculate it.

Lets say you want to send:
1uCi of Co-60
0.25uCi of Cs-137

The fraction is calculates as following (activity/maximumActivity)

This would be a factor for the Co-60 : 1uCi/2.7uCi = factor 0.37
for the Cs-137 it would be : 0.25/0.27 = 0.92

0.92 + 0.37 is greater one, so your package goes UN2910!

A 0.1 uCi of Cs-137 would be 0.1/0.27 = 0.37
0.37 Cs-137 + 0.37 Co-60 = 0.74, so the package is fine!

As your shown isotope set already has way more than 0.37 of Cs-137 it will definitly rated as "dangerous goods"

It looks like the set they sell is from Spectrum Techniques. They can make you custom values. I already have mailed with them and are about to order my own set of isotopes. You can contact them, they are very friendly and helpful!

I have attached an excel i made myself ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
It allows you to calculate if a package is UN2910 or not.

Just fill in the acitivy you want for each isotope in the cells "Input for desired value". It will then display if its UN2910 and if its in NRC rules, so it can be manufactured in USA. I already added a filter for isotopes that can be bought at spectrum techniques. If you remove it, you will get a lot of isotopes :)

Ignore the cells LA/LE, these are for Switzerland, you would have to look up the german exempt value in the link i attached.

Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 24 May 2017, 20:53
by ZeeCaptain
Thank you all for your answers!

I did not know the ARD regulationbut the normal german laws, thank you for pointing this out! So i cannot buy the set i wanted.

Thank you very much sgt_bear for you usefull resources! You really helped me out with the ARD.

Instead i will go for a 0.1µCi Cs-137 Source in any case.

But for now i will wait for my copy of NuclideMasterPlus, so i can generate specta from different Testsources to look what i could use.
Alternatively: If you got some recommendations what to get if i want to calibrate my GRS from als low as possible up to 1400 kev (but it did not find any sources for that) i would like to hear them. Maybe i will go for Co-60 too..

PS: @luuk: That would be awesome! I wrote you a pn, thank you so much for you offer!!!

Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 25 May 2017, 02:06
by sgt_bear
Hi, the set you displayed is for sure from spectrum techniques.

I just checked their page, and they have a version that you could take: ... urce-sets/


in this set the changed Cs-137 to 1, and Cs/Zn to just Zn, so it is exactly a Factor 1 and so not UN2910

Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 15 Nov 2018, 05:17
by Springdream
I'd be interested in getting some calibrated low radiation (EU conform source).
Anyone in Europe interested to sell it (maybe because there is no need anymore)?

Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 16 Nov 2018, 07:12
by luuk
HI Martin,
Buying in the USA will be the most simple and easy way if you want a callibrated source, don't think you can get easy a source here in Europe.
You can buy from Tom for a decent price one or more LySo crystals they can work nice as a check source (not callibrated).
If you are interested I may have some Fukushima soil that can be used as a source but again not callibrated.

Re: Question about check sources

Posted: 28 Jan 2019, 04:52
by Sebastien_billard
In France individuals cannot buy commercial source since exemption thresholds are set for professionnals… I don't know if this is the same in all european countries. Perhaps one could make a amateur calibrated source with thorium rods, since we know the percentage of thorium in those rods we could calculate activity ?