Keep Us Posted: Detecting Radioactive Materials in Mail and Parcels

It’s no question that snail mails are a thing of the past. In Australia, the volume of letters sent from 2008 to 2019 fell by 45 percent. Even with the population growth. 

With all the online platforms for messaging and video calls, both current and emerging, people would absolutely choose the fastest way of communication. On the other hand, the decline of letter-sending came with the rise of online shopping’s popularity. This was observed more during the pandemic when 46% of Australian consumers are buying online more frequently.

Couriers deliver millions of parcels from local and international sources every week. Is every item inspected thoroughly?

Detecting Illegal Radioactive Materials

Several big firms actually have their packages go through X-rays as they arrive. They do this as a security measure to confirm that there are no explosives or other dangerous goods.

If unshielded radioactive materials go through public mail, these can expose the public and postal workers to potential health hazards. Even without opening the package, anyone who handles it could be contaminated. 

That is why even in ports, cargo vehicles go through radiation portal monitors (RPM). RPMs are detection devices set up on both sides of the road. As part of a security system, these can handle radioactive or nuclear materials that pose danger to the public. 

Disinfecting Packages from Harmful Bacteria

What if the package is only contaminated? Then we can disinfect, too. Mail irradiation is the process where mail goes through a high-energy beam of x-rays. This is to get rid of bacteria and viruses that could be present in the mail.

No, it doesn’t make the packages radioactive. The only damage it can do is cause discoloration and make paper brittle (this is unfortunate, too but it’s better than getting harmful bacteria!).

In the US, certain government agencies started to irradiate mail in 2001, when authorities found the infectious disease anthrax in mail.

Anthrax bacteria mainly affect livestock and wild game but it can also be a bioweapon. That year, letters with anthrax spores were sent to two senators and news media agencies. These contaminated postal facilities and confirmed a total of 11 cases of inhalation anthrax. Inhalation anthrax is dangerous, as it can cause severe breathing problems and shock.

Keeping Postal Workers Safe

With the use of X-rays in handling mail and packages, it’s important to keep postal workers safe. Take measures in the workplace and collect the data. Afterward, have professionals interpret and assess that data.

SensaWeb’s monitoring solution banks on real-time data in a simple format. Network-connected radiation monitors detect real data and send it every two seconds. On any device, you can then access reports done in a simple visualisation.

With this PROACTIVE approach, SensaWeb manages radiation exposure in real-time, not just as a response to unexpected results.

Looking for area radiation monitors or personal radiation monitoring devices? SensaWeb is your right-hand man. Our monitors can help you detect and interdict radioactive materials easily.

Connect with us here or email us at You can also call us at +61 415 409 467.

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