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Radioactive Waste

Radioactive WasteRadioactive materials can be extremely dangerous at high levels. The best way to protect yourself from exposure to radioactivity is through the three lines of defense for radioactive materials: time, distance, and shielding. At Hunter College, laboratories work with levels of radiation that are minimal; however, radioactivity exposure is monitored for all employees that may come into contact with radioactive isotopes. All employees in labs that utilize radioactive materials must wear personal monitoring devices.

Examples: substances that emit alpha, beta, or gamma radiation: H-3, C-14, P-32, P-33, S-35, I-125, etc.

  • Collect radioactive waste in separate, approved radioactive waste containers ONLY.
  • Try to minimize production of this waste stream.
  • Contact EHS and make an appointment for radioactive waste drop-off.

These are rules for all persons using radioactive materials. Adherence to these rules is strictly required. These rules represent minimum standards of good practice required of all licensees and persons working with radioactive materials.

  • Mouth pipetting is never permitted. Remote pipettes, syringes, or other pipetting aids are to be used.
  • Eating or smoking in any laboratory using radioactive materials is never permitted.
  • Storage of food in refrigerators is prohibited.
  • Gloves are to be worn at all times when working with radioactive materials. Gloves are to be removed immediately after working with radioactive materials and hands should be checked for any contamination.
  • Hands should always be washed thoroughly before leaving the laboratory.
  • Any item contaminated with radioactive materials should be placed in the containers provided and be labeled with "radioactive materials" signs.
  • Radioactive materials are to be transported in a manner that prevents spillage or breakage. When liquids are in a glass container, the container should be kept within a second non-breakable vessel. This vessel should be large enough to contain all of the liquid from the glass container.
  • All bench tops are to be covered with an absorbent covering or work should be done within a tray that will contain any spills.
  • All work with volatile compounds is to be done in an appropriate hood.
  • The door to the laboratory, work and storage areas is to be posted with the appropriate "radiation precaution" signs. These signs are available from commercial suppliers or may be obtained from the Safety office.
  • In the case of emergency, contact Environmental Health and Safety (Ricardo Franco) at x. 14462. During off hours or weekends, call Security at (212) 772-4521.
  • Shipments are to be opened in a hood if there is any possibility of volatilization of the material.
  • When a package containing radioactive material is opened, a check is to be made to determine if there is any physical damage to the package, contamination of the packing material or the vial in which the material is contained. If contamination is found, the Radiation Safety Service or the EHS Office (x. 14462) must be contacted.
  • An area is to be provided within the laboratory for storage of radioactive materials, which provides sufficient shielding to maintain exposure levels ALARA, and which prevents release of the material.
  • All laboratories containing radioactive materials are to be locked when personnel are not present.
  • All containers that no longer contain radioactive material are to be checked for contamination before disposal. If free of contamination, signs are to be defaced before disposal.
  • Laboratories using high energy beta or gamma radiation are to have a survey meter available. This survey meter is to be calibrated yearly.
  • Emergency procedures are to be posted in each laboratory. It is the responsibility of the licensee/laboratory head to see that employees are familiar with these procedures.
  • The "Notice to Employees" document of the NYC Department of Health is to be posted in every laboratory.
  • Contamination checks of all working areas are to be performed at least monthly.
  • If personnel monitors are provided to the laboratory, they are to be worn at all times in the laboratory. Personnel monitors are to be stored in an area where radiation is not present. Personnel monitors are to be returned on a timely basis.
  • Persons under the age of 18 are not to be employed to work with radioactive materials.
  • Any female employee who is pregnant or thinks she may be pregnant should contact the Radiation Safety Office for instructions about continuing work with radioactive materials and modification of her work situation if necessary.
  • Inventory records of radioactive materials are to be maintained in the laboratory on the forms provided. These records are to include each receipt, use, transfer, or disposal of radioactive material.
  • The amount of radioactive materials stored in the laboratory cannot exceed the maximum possession amount shown on the license.
  • Any accidental introduction of radioactive material to the body, e.g. ingestion, contaminated wounds, or injection, must be reported immediately to the Radiation Safety Office or the EHS Office (Ricardo Franco, x. 14462).