Radioactive rays are penetrating and ionizing and can therefore destroy living cells. Small does of radiation over an extended period may cause cancer and eventually death. Strong does can kill instantly. Marie Curie and Enrico Fermi died due to exposure to radiation. Several precautions should be observed while handling radioisotopes. Some of these are listed in the following:-
1. No radioactive substance should be handled with bare hands. Alpha and beta emitters can be handled using thick gloves. Gamma ray emitters must be handled only by remote control that is by mechanical means Gamma rays are the most dangerous and over exposure can lead to serious biological damage.
2. Radioactive materials must be stored in thick lead containers.
3. Reactor and laboratories dealing with and conducting experiments with radioactive metals must be surrounded with thick concrete lined with lead.
4. People working with radioactive isotopes must wear protective clothing which is left in the laboratory. The workers must be checked regularly with dosimeters, and appropriate measures should be taken in cases of overdose.
5. Radioactive waste must be sealed and buried deep in the ground.