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Life Science Division

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The Life Sciences Division (LSD) of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board (SLAEB), by its definition covers the aspects of ionizing radiation related to life sciences, including environment related natural sciences. The main objective of the LSD is to establish and promote the nuclear analytical techniques in the SLAEB. Other than that LSD covers the duties related to both scientific research and regulatory purposes; it houses laboratories to perform analysis of materials through nuclear analytical techniques. The key scientific services are related to radiation protection and regulation, industries, export and import regulation and academic research, while the division actively engages in the socio-economic development goals of the country.

The Division comprises of mainly three units; Nuclear Analytical Testing (NAT) servicers, Health and Environmental studies and Food &Agriculture related studies.

Nuclear Analytical Testing Service

The nuclear analytical testing services are delivered through its main laboratories, the Low-Level Counting laboratory also known as the gamma spectrometry laboratory, alpha spectrometry and gross alpha-beta counting laboratory and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis laboratory.

Our laboratories assure a high quality of service for its customers through operating in compliance with ISO/IEC 17025:2005 international standards and consistently deliver technically valid test results. The laboratories participate in inter-laboratory comparisons and proficiency tests conducted by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as tools for quality assurance and quality control of analytical results.  These standards are universally recognized as the highest level of quality attainable by a testing laboratory.

Gamma spectrometry laboratory

The gamma spectrometry laboratory is concentrated on performing radiation tests on materials and objects using gamma spectroscopy to identify gamma emitting radioactive nuclides within them, and its resulting radiation effects.

The laboratory houses four Sodium Iodide [NaI(Tl)] gamma detector systems for radio activity screening of samples and three High Pure Germanium [HPGe] based high resolution gamma spectrometry systems for further identification and quantification of radioactive nuclides in samples.

Some of the major tests currently performed can be summarized as follows,

  1. 1)Imported milk powder: Screening test is performed using gamma spectroscopy on imported milk foods for identifying Cs-137 and Cs-134 radionuclide contaminations. The milk foods include full cream milk powder, skimmed milk powder and other milk added products for nutritional purposes.
  2. 2)Export products: Items such tea, desiccated coconut, herbal medicines, co fibers and many other food products needs certification on radioactive contamination in order to reach international markets and the laboratory provides test services that would be beneficial for the exporters.
  3. 3)Industrial items: Industrial items made of various materials designated for both local and export markets are analyzed to determine the radio activity concentrations.
  4. 4)Any imported natural or artificial product with suspicious radioactive contamination: Such tests are necessary for the protection of the general public from possible radiation contamination, and can be performed as guided by any regulatory authority.
  5. 5)Supporting Research and Development work: Samples from academic or industries are tested for research and development purposes related to radionuclide identification, radioactivity monitoring. Samples may include raw materials such as rubber, polymers, mineral sands, soil samples, vegetation, pure or waste water from artificial or natural sources.

Comprehensive tests results and laboratory reports are issued directly for customers or designated regulatory bodies for further decision making or regulatory steps respectively.


X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) laboratory

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technique is a major nuclear analytical technique widely used throughout the world for multi elemental analysis, the identification of basic chemical elements that a material or object is made of. The technique is considered to be a non-destructive method as opposed to other chemical tests that needs the specimen in test to be disintegrated for the purpose. Therefore, it finds advantages for both industrial and R & D activities where the sample should be preserved for future use.

The XRF laboratory of the Life Science Division having understood the above potential of this technique provides analytical tests for local industries, export and import items and academic research purposes that require the identification of elements in a sample. Both qualitative measures where the identification of individual elements simultaneously and quantitative measures for quantifying the percentage or parts per million (ppm) of the sample can be performed.

The laboratory performs mainly three tests,

  1. 1)Energy dispersive XRF or EDXRF.
  2. 2)Total internal reflection XRF or TXRF.
  3. 3)Portable XRF for in-situ tests and non-destructive tests in laboratory for large items.


Testing services can be carried for following sample matrixes for commercial and R&D purposes,

  1. 1)Soil samples.
  2. 2)Vegetation samples.
  3. 3)Food items.
  4. 4)Minerals and rocks, gems and gold/silver items of suspicious composition.
  5. 5)Raw metals and metal made items for composition analysis.
  6. 6)Industrial items both imported or locally manufactured, for composition analysis and authentication.
  7. 7)Analysis of industrial settings such as water turbines, tubes, ducts, furnaces, metal structures for in-situ analysis for elemental composition analysis and corrosion study.
  8. 8)Archaeological items such as metal artifact, statues, replicas for composition analysis and authentication of originality.
  9. 9)Suitable items directed for composition analysis for regulatory or legal purposes.

Comprehensive tests results and reports both qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis are issued directly for customers or designated regulatory bodies for further decision making or regulatory steps respectively.



Alpha Spectrometry and Gross Alpha-beta Laboratory

LSD has been performing alpha spectroscopy for identification of alpha radiation emitting radio nuclides mainly to support the environmental radiation monitoring program. Continuous air monitoring perfumed with portable air sampling devices gather the air samples to filter paper from area suspicious of airborne radiation contamination. Such filter paper samples can be analyzed in this laboratory for radioactivity generated by gross alpha beta and specific alpha emitters. This kind of test can also be performed for natural pure water or waste water of commercial and industrial sources for analysis of radiation contamination.

With the addition of latest alpha spectrometry device by Canberra, capable of performing tests on eight samples simultaneously, it is able to boost the efficiency of alpha spectrometry test performance for both commercial and R&D purposes.

With the new Gross Alpha-Beta counting system added recently, it is hoped to extend the activities of the laboratory towards testing of water from different sources, for radioactive contamination by measuring the gross alpha and gross beta radiation activity. Initiatives are to be taken for extending tests performed with this system for other samples, in the coming future.



Testing Charges

Food Testing (Radioactivity) Charges

No. of Sample









Radioactivity Analysis (screening Testing)

Import (Milk) Normal





Import (Milk) Priority





Export (Tea & Others) Normal





Export (Tea & Others) Priority










Radioactivity Analysis (HPGe Testing)










Radioactivity Analysis (Gamma)





Import (Fish)










XRF Analysis





Gross alpha beta analysis




Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) laboratory

The LSD has established recently the first ever IRMS laboratory in Sri Lanka through the Technical Cooperation of International Atomic Energy Agency. The LSD is in the process of developing methodologies in the analysis of stable isotopes using Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometric (IRMS) techniques which can be measured stable isotopes of C, H, O and S in liquid and solid samples.

Inductive Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS) laboratory.

The LSD Division is in the process of installation and commissioning of ICPMS. The equipment has the capability of measuring trace and rare earth elements in parts per billion (ppb) levels in different sample types.


Research and Development activities available at LSD

Health and Environmental Studies

Apart from the major Nuclear Analytical Services, the LSD division engages in many programs related to quality and safety assurance in health sector of the nation and environmental protection. In these endeavors the division mainly concentrates on the radiation monitoring and radiation protection aspects.

The division in collaboration with Central Environmental Authority engages in air pollution monitoring for identification of airborne particulate matter (APM) in major urban areas in the country. APM data set has been established for Colombo Fort and Orugodawatta areas in which previous monitoring stations situated in. Current air quality monitoring stations are established in Kandy and Biyagama.

In collaboration with Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) of Sri Lanka, the division executes a program on radiation monitoring in marine and coastal environments. Also we merge with the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) for radioactivity monitoring in marine life forms, fish, sea water and sediments.

The division also provides services to health sector by testing the waste water from hospitals where cancer therapy is performed using radiotherapy. The gamma spectrometry laboratory engages in identifying mainly the I-131 radionuclide contamination in waste water samples received from hospitals through the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB).


Food and Agriculture

Food and Agriculture Section engages in a program on Building Technological Capability for Food Traceability and Food safety. Food safety and quality are vital aspects of food security. The food supply is vulnerable to a range of food hazards (microbiological, chemical, physical) that may arise at any point in the food supply chain. The dramatic increase in the volume of global trade and complexity of supply chains over recent decades has caused a number of issues around food authenticity and safety.

In Collaboration with Tea Research Institute a research project titled ‘Applying Isotopic Fingerprinting to Authentication of CeylonTea’ is being implemented which is important in international trade.

Another project on animal originated food is being implemented in collaboration with Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya.

The division is on a path to applying it to other food items for extending its activities with the aim of ensuring consumer safety and promote international trade.

The Food and Agriculture Section in collaboration with Natural Resources Management Centre, Department of Agriculture engages in soil erosion assessment project using Fallout Radionuclide technique (FRN) in declared soil conservation area in the country. Parallel to this project a research project on identification of sources and transport of agro-contaminants in hilly watersheds is also implemented.

Ongoing Regional and National Technical Cooperation projects of IAEA

Project Number

Title of the project




Conducting the Comprehensive Management and Recovery of Radioactive and Associated Mineral Resources.



Enhancing food Safety and Supporting Regional Authentication of Foodstuffs through Implementation of Nuclear Techniques.(RCA)



Enhancing Regional Capability for Marine Radioactivity Monitoring and Assessment of the Potential Impact of Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Facilities in Asia-Pacific Marine Ecosystem.



Assessing the Impact of Urban Air Particulate Matter on Air Quality.


Completed 2018



Assessing the Vulnerability of Coastal Landscapes and Ecosystems to Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change (RCA)



Assessing and improving Soil and Water Quality to Minimize Land Degradation and Enhance Crop Productivity Using Nuclear Techniques. (RCA)

RAS 5083

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture and Land Use Changes Through Climate Smart Agricultural Practices


National Technical Cooperation Projects


Establishing a National Centre for Marine Pollution Control



Establishing a National Centre for Nuclear Agriculture.



Strengthening of Nuclear Analytical capabilities of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board



Strengthening national capabilities for food and feed safety




Establishment of Medical Cyclotron Facility for the production of radiopharmaceuticals needed for molecular imaging techniques used in cancer patient management.



 IAEA CRP projects


Radio analytical and Isotopic Studies of Climate Trends & Variability in Marine Paleo- Records in Sri Lanka.


Development of Rapid Screening Methods to Assess the Authenticity, Safety & Quality of Imported & Locally Produced Milk Powder in Sri Lanka


Use of Stable Isotopes and Multi Element Analysis as a Traceability System in Authenticating Dairy Products of Sri Lanka to Enhance Food Safety


Identification of sources and transport of agro-contaminants in hilly agricultural watersheds in declared conservation area in Sri Lanka


RCARO funded CRP project


1. Director, Life Sciences:  Ms. Champa K. Dissanayake   

E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tel: 011 2533427-8 (General) Mobile: (+94) 718488383
Fax: (+94) 112-533448

2. Deputy Director, Life Sciences: Ms. H. M. N. L. Handagiripathira

E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tel: 011 2533427-8 (General) Mobile: (+94) 717985426
Fax: (+94) 112-533448




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