Promptly contact the Radiation Safety Officer if:

  • 1 milli-Curie or more of radioactive material is spilled,
  • A person becomes contaminated with radioactive material,
  • Spilled radioactive material becomes fixed to a surface,
  • Radioactive material volatizes or becomes airborne outside a fume hood, or
  • You would like our assistance with resolving a radiological spill.

Radiation Safety Officer

For Minor Liquid Spills  ( less than 1 mCi ):

  • Effective decontamination can usually be resolved by trained lab staff.
  • Contain liquid spills promptly by applying paper towels or other absorbents.
  • Change into clean apparel and wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed.  [e.g. shoe covers, gloves, lab coats or aprons, safety glasses, etc.]
  • If contamination is airborne, try to turn off building ventilation.  This should be done by someone not involved in the spill and who is unlikely to spread contamination.
  • Mark or outline the entire suspect area with tape, pen markings, and/or other methods.  This should prevent contamination of others as well as removal of contaminated items.
  • Limit area access to those persons necessary for resolving the spill.
  • When cleaning, work from outer edges of the spill toward the center.
  • Inexperienced personnel should control the spill, mark off the area, and call for help from the Authorized User or an experienced worker, rather than risk spreading contamination. Radiation Safety staff can help as well.
  • If inhalation, ingestion, or skin contamination is suspected or known, the RSO must be contacted as soon as possible. The RSO or a designee will provide suitable bioassay procedures as needed.
  • Check shoes and clothing for contamination by surveying with appropriate equipment. Leave contaminated shoes in the spill area when exiting. Remove other contaminated clothing promptly, survey exposed skin, and collect contaminated items for analysis by the RSO.
  • Appropriate survey instruments must be used to verify decontamination. Portable meters can be used for most isotopes, but wipe samples must be used when 3H is involved. Decontamination efforts can be stopped when meter readings are below 3 times background and/or wipe samples are below 100 dpm.
  • When decontamination is finished, all wastes should be properly disposed of.
  • Thoroughly wash hands and perform personal surveys before leaving the lab. Do not leave until you are sure you are free of contamination.
  • Document the spill.  Record times, date, names of those involved, a description of the incident, instrument background and contamination readings, descriptions of decontamination efforts, etc.
  • Wear enough PPE to fully protect you and your clothing.
  • Use remote manipulators, when reasonable and possible, to pick-up contaminated absorbents. With higher energy isotopes, survey PPE often and replace as needed.
  • Start decontamination as soon as possible to achieve the best results.  Remember to clean toward the center of the spill, not away from it, and avoid smearing it.
  • Destructive methods for removing contamination (e.g. sanding, peeling) ARE NOT ALLOWED.
  • Collect wastes in plastic bags, and place in a dry/solid radioactive waste container.

For Minor Dry Spills

  • Since our research tends to use liquid forms of dispensable radioactive material, dry spills have not been a concern at USU.
  • Dry spills may occur during grinding or other similar processes involving dry/solid radioactive material.
  • Special precautions may be necessary if fine particles of material mix with aerosols, natural dusts, etc., and become airborne. Please note that even slight air movement can carry fine particles.
  • Generally, minor dry spills can be readily cleaned-up by applying and removing lab tape or similar tapes to surfaces.
  • Guidelines for Minor Liquid Spills (above) may be adaptable to dry spill clean-up.
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