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Radiation Safety

Standard Operating Procedure

Building: Combs Research Building
Room: 222
Department: Markey Cancer Center
PI: Andrew Pierce, PhD.

Section 1: Process, Radioactive Material

Section 2: The purpose of the Radiation Safety module is to be used as a guideline to ensure the authorized laboratory worker/user remains cognizant of the radioactive materials (32P in this lab measured in millirem per time or millicurie per time1) stored and used in the labs and their associated hazards. An Authorized User is a faculty/staff employee who has been approved to use radiation-producing devices by the Radiation Safety Committee. All individuals using radiation-producing devices will receive radiation safety training offered by the Radiation Safety Office. Radiation producing devices do not make anything radioactive and do not produce radiation contamination (certain particle accelerators may be an exception). Training must be completed within four months of using a radiation-producing device. In addition individuals will be trained on the operation of the particular radiation producing device he/she will be using and actions to take in the event of an emergency.

Section 3: There are potential hazards associated in working with radioactive materials. Potential latent biological effects due to chronic radiation exposure would be altered genes (aberations, mutations, deletions) or possibly cancer. However, we will not be using high intensity types of radioisotopes in this lab to produce these biological effects. Applying basic radiation control measures can control the external dose in which one receives. The principal objective of radiation protection is to ensure that the dose received by any individual is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA2), while not exceeding the maximum permissible limit. Any one, or a combination, of the following methods may achieve this objective: Time, Distance, and Shielding. Limit the time of exposure. For illustrative purposes, a person entering a relatively high radiation field of 1000 millirem/hr, but for only 30 seconds, would receive a relatively low dose of 8 millirem. The maximum permissible whole body dose is 5000 millirem per calendar year for occupational workers. By increasing the distance between the source of exposure and an individual, the dose received can be significantly reduced. When an individual doubles his/her distance from a source, the dose will usually be reduced by approximately three-fourths. Absorbing material, or shields, can be incorporated to reduce exposure levels. The specific shielding material and thickness is dependent on the amount and type of radiation involved. Lead shielding is generally used for diagnostic and other low-energy x-rays, while concrete and steel are often used with higher energy sources such as accelerators. The Radiation Safety Office will assist in designing and specifying appropriate shielding. (External radiation levels should be kept to less than 0.1 millirem/hr at 5 centimeters from the source surface or source housing and to levels as low as reasonably achievable).

Section 4: When working with radioactive materials, one must incorporate the use of PPE, personal protective equipment. At a minimum, all lab personnel should be wearing a lab coat or lab apron, gloves, and safety glasses when there is active work being done within the lab.

Section 5: The engineering controls for this lab will be the use of a half an inch thick plexi-glass shield to provide the necessary shielding between the source of the radioactive material and the laboratory worker/user. We will also incorporate the use of a Geiger-Mueller type meter (end window or pancake type) that will detect very low energy x-rays. X-ray badges can also be used; however, since we are using such low dosages( μCi), these low energy x-rays will not be detected on the badges. Therefore, the use of an x-ray badge is unnecessary.

Section 6: Radioactive materials must be stored in a properly labeled radioactive storage cabinet or refrigerator. In this lab, the 32P radioisotope will be stored in the radioactive area in the refrigerator at 4C. Access shall be limited (room securely locked when unoccupied) to laboratory personnel only. Always handle radioisotopes with the necessary PPE. A seven-digit number called the ship code number is assigned to each radioactive item/vial logged in through the Radiation Safety Office. This number is physically attached to each radioactive source vial. The first two digits indicate the year the materials were received (02-----). The last five digits ascend sequentially for each shipment that is received during the year (0200033, 0200034, etc.). The ship code provides a unique means for identifying each item in a shipment. Along with the ship code, a radioactive material record of use form will be provided with each vial of radioactive material received by the authorized laboratory user. This is a disposition sheet to record each use of the material in that specific vial. The Radioactive Materials Monthly Inventory form will be completed each reporting period by the user to document the additions of radioactive materials to waste in the lab. It will contain separate columns to indicate the quantity added each month to dry waste, liquid scintillation waste, any materials down the drain, bulk liquids and any transfers to or from another user. Access to the laboratory radioactive materials will be limited to those working in this lab.

Once the radioactive material container (ie. ampules, bottles, etc) is emptied, make sure to deface all radiation symbols on the in the waste container with <120 day half-life.

Section 7: Minor radioactive spills of known materials should be immediately cleaned up by personnel in the lab or work area. A minor spill does not involve contamination of personnel, is generally less than 100 microcuries and does not involve airborne contamination. The following steps should be taken in the order listed:

1. Warn fellow workers of the spill hazard and keep others out of the area.
2. Place absorbent material over a liquid spill.
3. Be careful not to track contamination out of the spill area. Remove shoes at the edge of the contaminated area. Use disposable gloves to prevent contamination of the hands and to prevent cross-contamination.
4. Check all objects and clothing for contamination before leaving the area.
5. Call the Radiation Safety Office if assistance is needed.

In a major radioactive spill case involving contamination of personnel, the following steps should be taken in the order listed:

Personnel Protection
1. If hazard is extreme (high radiation level or suspect air contamination), evacuate the area immediately; close and lock the door.
2. Remove contaminated clothing and wash contaminated parts of the body thoroughly with detergent.
3. Contact the Radiation Safety Office (323-6777), after hours Campus 911.
4. Warn fellow workers of the spill hazard and keep others out of the area.

Contamination Control
1. Localize and control area of spill. Place absorbent material over a liquid spill.
2. Do not track contamination out of the spill area, if possible. Remove shoes at the edge of contaminated area if they may be contaminated.
3. If contamination is widespread outside the laboratory, it may be necessary to call Campus Police (911) to assist in securing the area.
4. Check all objects and clothing for contamination before leaving the area.

Section 8: Abortive attempts at decontamination can make things much worse. Unless immediate action is demanded to safeguard personnel, decontamination should be done under the supervision of Radiation Safety Office personnel. Laboratory personnel are normally required to perform the major portion of the decontamination. Radiation Safety personnel will determine the procedures and equipment to be used and will render assistance as necessary. All personnel and areas involved must be monitored to assure adequate decontamination before normal work is resumed.

Section 9: Radioactive waste disposal is expensive and must be done in accordance with many rules and regulations. In order to assure safety, save money and reduce the amount of waste handling, the following guidelines must be followed. Non-exempt radioactive waste products are to be separated into biohazardous waste and non-biohazardous waste. Biohazardous waste shall be placed in an appropriate container displaying a biohazard symbol, as well as a radioactive material symbol. Biohazardous, radioactive waste shall be further segregated into waste that can be stored at room temperature and perishable waste that must be stored in a freezer. Radionuclides with a half-life <120 days will be held for decay and disposed of by the Radiation Safety Office after an appropriate survey. Radionuclides with a half-life >120 days will be disposed of at a licensed radioactive waste site. A completed radioactive waste receipt with all of the appropriate information shall accompany each waste unit before it is transported to the radioactive waste holding area. Non-perishable items shall be held until final disposition by the Radiation Safety Office. Accurate tracking of waste radionuclides is required by regulations. Waste generators (departments) are responsible for the proper preparation and segregation of waste, and for the accuracy of the reporting data on the waste ticket. Departments are responsible for the security of radioactive waste until it is transferred to the Radiation Safety Office.

Aqueous liquids may be released to the sewer system in specified laboratories in quantities not to exceed 10 μCi per day. Contact the Radiation Safety Office for permission. Liquids containing biohazards must be sterilized (by autoclave or chemical methods) prior to pick up by the Radiation Safety Office.

Section 10: Materials Safety Data Sheets, MSDS, for all chemicals may be found on the following web address:

Section 11: Protocols

Disintegrations per second (dps)
Disintegrations per minute (dpm)
Curie (Ci)
Millicurie (μCi)
Microcurie (μCi)
REM=radiation effective man RAD=radiation absorbed dose CPM=counts per minute
1 REM=1 RAD X Q factor Q factors for Gamma & Beta=1, therefore 1 REM=1RAD
CPM/Efficiency(%) = DPM
The "old" unit is the RAD; 1 RAD = 100 ergs/g, or 1 x 10-2 J/kg
The "new" unit is the Gray (Gy), which is equal to 100 RAD. Gray is the energy absorbed per unit of mass. ( J/kg)
The "old" unit of dose equivalent is the REM.
The "new" unit is the Sievert (Sv), which is equal to 100 REM.

2 ALARA (acronym for As Low As Reasonably Achievable) making every reasonable effort to maintain exposures to radiation as far below the dose limits as is practical consistent with the purpose for which the licensed activity is undertaken, taking into account the state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to benefits to the public health and safety, and other societal and socioeconomic considerations, and in relation to utilization of nuclear energy and licensed materials in the public interest.

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