What Is the Use of Isotope Sodium-24?

Isotope sodium-24 is a radioactive form of sodium that produces beta and gamma radiation. It has applications in medicine, physical sciences and engineering to trace the flow of either sodium or other liquids by using radiation detectors.

According to Chemistry Explained, sodium-24 has applications in medicine when the flow of sodium needs to be followed in a person's body. By injecting sodium-24 into the body, it can be used as a tracer; the radiation, and hence the flow of sodium, can be followed using radiation detectors. According to the Environmental Literacy Council, one advantage of sodium-24 in medical tracing is its short half-life. Because its half-life is only 15 hours, there is minimal radiation damage to the body as a result.

Outside of medical purposes, sodium-24 can also be used as a tracer. For example, sodium-24 can be added to oil in underground pipelines to determine if the pipes are leaking. If oil is leaking out of a pipe, the sodium-24 also leaks out, and the location of the leak is picked up using radiation detectors.