The decay of Cf 252 by spontaneous fission makes the isotope a convenient highly portable neutron source of neutrons. Cf 252 could be used for radiographic purposes or as a source of neutron for neutron activation analysis of planetary surfaces or for logging in deep drilling operations.

Similarly to other actinide elements, californium tends to accumulate in the skelet, where it damages the red cell forming mechanism. The maximum permissible burden of Cf 252 in human body is 0.00006 micrograms (or 0.009 micrograms in the case of Cf 249).