Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home » Environmental Health & Safety » Radioactive Spills
Document Actions

Radioactive Spills

Estimate the amount of radioactivity spilled. Spills above these millicurie (mCi) amounts are considered major, below are considered minor.

All laboratory personnel should read these procedures prior to commencing work.

Liquid Spills

  1. Wear rubber or plastic gloves.
  2. Drop absorbent paper on spill.

Dry Spills

  1. Wear rubber plastic gloves.
  2. Place damp absorbent paper over spill.
  3. Take care not to spread contamination.
  4. Decontaminate as necessary.
  5. Permit no person to resume work in the area until a survey has been made.

Minor Spill

A spill can generally be considered minor if it contaminates small areas or equipment and results in:

  • No external or internal contamination of personnel.
  • No excessive external radiation exposure to personnel.
  • No serious delay in work.

In the event of a minor spill:

  1. Notify all other persons in the room.
  2. Restrict number of persons in spill area.
  3. Confine spill immediately.

Major Spill

A spill is considered major if it results in any of the following:

  • Internal radiation exposure to personnel (inhalation/ingestion of radioactive material).
  • Excessive external radiation exposure to or contamination of personnel.
  • Contamination of large areas.
  • Considerable delay in work.

In the event of a major spill:

  1. Notify persons not involved to vacate the room at once.
  2. If a liquid spills, right the container (have hands protected with gloves).
  3. If spill is on skin, flush thoroughly.
  4. If spill is on clothing, remove at once.
  5. Turn off all fans or ventilation, if possible.
  6. Leave the room.
  7. Notify Radiation Safety through the Environmental Health and Safety Dept, x. 14462.
  8. Decontaminate personnel involved as per Radiation Safety instructions.
  9. Decontaminate area as per Radiation Safety instructions.
  10. All persons involved must be monitored.
  11. Permit no person to resume work in the area until a survey by Radiation Protection is made.

Radioactive Dusts, Mists, Fumes, Gases, etc.

  1. Notify other persons to vacate room.
  2. Hold breath, close valves, turn off air-circulating devices, as time permits.
  3. Vacate room.
  4. Close all doors - post area.
  5. Notify Radiation Safety through the Environmental Health and Safety Dept, x. 14462.
  6. Report suspected inhalations of radioactive material.
  7. Detain all persons suspected of being contaminated.
  8. Decontaminate as instructed by Radiation Safety.
  9. An air survey must be performed before work can be resumed.

Injuries Involving Radiation Hazards

  1. Wash minor wounds immediately under running water, spreading edges of wound.
  2. Notify Radiation Safety through the Environmental Health and Safety Dept, x. 14462.
  3. Have employee proceed to Radiation Protection or Health Services.
  4. In the case of traumatic injury, contact the Emergency Medical Services.

Fires Involving Possible Radiation Hazards

  1. Sound alarm.
  2. Call operator and report location.
  3. Notify Radiation Safety through the Environmental Health and Safety Dept, x. 14462.
  4. Close all doors and windows.
  5. Extinguish the fire, if possible.
  6. Decontaminate may be necessary before work is resumed in the area.

Personnel Decontamination

Contaminated clothing should be removed and stored for further evaluation by the Radiation Safety Officer. If the spill is on the skin, flush thoroughly with lukewarm water and then wash with a mild soap. If contamination remains, induce perspiration by covering the area with plastic. Wash the affected area again to remove any contamination that was released by perspiration.