Co-60 (Cobalt-60) Radiation Safety Data
Published: Aug 21, 2023
Source: Ionactive Radiation Protection Resource
Half life: 5.3 Years
Specific activity: 4.18×1013 Bq/g
Decay product: Ni-60 (non-radioactive)
Significant emissions (keV) [Co-60 (Cobalt-60)]
In the data below, % refers to the probability of emission of a particular type of radiation at a specified energy
Gamma / x-ray: 1173 keV (100%),1333 keV (100 %)
Beta (Emax): 318 keV (100 %)
Alpha particles: n/a
High energy gamma emitter, with two high energy photons emitted at 100% for each decay.
External exposure (in air) [Co-60 (Cobalt-60)]
The values below are specified as mSv/h for either 1 MBq of activity or an area source of 1 MBq/m2 depending on the geometry. (HP 0.07) represents a skin dose rate and (HP 10) represents an 'at depth' tissue dose rate (> 10mm).
Point source (at 30cm)
Point source : 0.0126 mSv/h (beta dose rate)
Point source: 0.00386 mSv/h (gamma dose rate), 3.86 micro Sv/h
Infinite place source (at 10 cm)
Beta (HP 0.07) : 0.026 mSv/h
Photon (HP 0.07) : 0.016 mSv/h
Photons (HP 10) : 0.015 mSv/h
Co-60 is a high energy gamma emitter. In industry Co-60 is used in the GBq or TBq range. Looking at the Point Source gamma data given above, dose rates at 30 cm would then be 3.86 mSv/h (1 GBq) and 3.86 Sv/h (1 TBq). These values are for an unshielded point source.
External exposure (arising from personal contamination) [Co-60 (Cobalt-60)]
The values below are either for uniform contamination on the skin (for 1 kBq/cm2) or as a single droplet (1 kBq) and are specified in mSv/h. It is assumed that no PPE is being worn which would attenuate the radiation.
Uniform deposit on the skin: 0.784 mSv/h (gamma dose rate)
0.05ml droplet on the skin: 0.221 mSv/h - (gamma dose rate)
Shielding (external radiation) [Co-60 (Cobalt-60)]
In the data below beta shielding is specified as mm of material to provide 100% absorption of the beta particle (or electron). Gamma (and x-ray) shielding is specified in terms of mm of material relating to 1 TVT or 1 HVT. The TVT is the thickness of material (in mm) which will reduce the radiation intensity (dose rate) down to 1/10 of the pre-shielded dose rate. The HVT is the thickness of material (in mm) which will reduce the radiation intensity down to 1/2 of the pre-shielded dose rate
Beta radiation (for 100% absorption)
Glass: 0.4 mm
Plastic: 0.7 mm
Typical PPE (glove): negligible absorption (don't rely on gloves to shield for external radiation, they are a contamination control method).
Gamma / x-ray radiation (TVT and HVT)
Lead: 16mm (HVT) and 46mm (TVT)
Steel: 22mm (HVT) and 73mm (TVT)
Note there is some variety in values across the internet - please use these values for planning and education. If you are planning to build a shield for Co-60 then please contact the Ionactive Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA).
Internal exposure [Co-60 (Cobalt-60)]
The data featured below is derived for employees who work with ionising radiation (and are therefore subject to dose limits specified by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 in the UK, and similar regulation around the world). Whilst not directly applicable to public exposure (e.g. exposure resulting from environmental releases - either planned or accidental), the data will provide a good indication of likely exposures and is therefore adequate for general research, illustration and asking 'what if?' type questions. If you need professional advice, please consider consulting a Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA).
Internal radiation exposure generally means the intake of a radioactive substances by inhalation, ingestion or through cuts (or absorption) in the skin. For this resource assume cuts / absorption are similar to the ingestion values.
This data provides the dose delivered (committed effective dose equivalent) for an intake of [Co-60 (Cobalt-60)] by inhalation or ingestion to yield 1mSv effective dose. The dose value provided assumes that all the dose is delivered in the first year of intake, in reality this will vary greatly with radioisotope due to a combination of physical half-life, biological half-life and the biochemical behaviour of the particular radioactive substances in the body.
Target organ: Lungs
Inhalation dose (1 mSv): 0.0345 MBq
Ingestion dose (1 mSv): 0.295 MBq