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Class 7: Radioactive materials

Radioactive materials mean any material containing radionuclides where both the activity concentration and the total activity in the consignment exceed the values specified in determining activity limits.


Activity limits for packaging containing radioactive material are determined by the activity values for ‘Special Form’ radioactive material and for materials, which is ‘Other Form’.

Radioactive materials are materials containing unstable atoms that change their structure spontaneously in a random fashion over a time period. As each atom changes it emits invisible radiation that may cause chemical or biological change-ionising radiation. This can damage the human body in some way or other, depending on the type of radiation, and the duration of the exposure. Ionising radiation is generally dangerous to the human body, depending on the type of radiation, the dose and the duration of the exposure.

Some radioactive materials may also have other hazardous properties, and packages may therefore carry other UN warning signs to indicate subsidiary risks.

Radioactive packages are perfectly safe to handle and transport, because the packaging acts as a shield. They will not create any health hazard for transport workers. However, the rule is to keep any dose of ionising radiation to a minimum. The dose in turn depends on:

  • The strength of the radioactive source, the "activity"
  • The distance from the source
  • The barriers around the source
  • The exposure times

The types of packages for radioactive materials

Radioactive material, packaging and packages must meet the requirements. The quantity of radioactive material in a package must not exceed the limits. The types of packages for radioactive materials covered by DGR are:

i. Excepted packages: the dose rate at any point on the external surface of the package does not exceed 5 uSv/h (0.5 mrem/h).
ii. Industrial packages: may be used for Low Specific Activity (LSA) material and Surface Contaminated Objects (SCO).
iii. Type A packages
iv. Type B(U) and Type B(M) packages
v. Type C packages

May refer the IAEA regulations for the safe transport of radioactive material.

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