Standard Safety Procedures

The following safety procedures must be followed when working with radioactive materials:

  • Minimize external radiation exposure by controlling the distance from the source, the exposure time, and shielding. Increasing the distance from the source is frequently the most effective and economical means to reduce radiation exposure from penetrating forms of radiation.
  • Store and transport containers of radioactive liquids in secondary containers that will hold the contents of the primary container in the event of breakage.
  • Clearly label all containers of radioactive material with an indication of the radionuclide, the quantity of radioactive material, the date of the assay and a standard radiation warning label.
  • Only authorized persons may remove isotopes from storage and only designated cabinets, freezers, and refrigerators may be used for storing isotopes. All rooms where isotopes are stored must remain locked when not in use.
  • Eating, drinking, food preparation, food storage, and application of cosmetics are not permitted in laboratories where radioactive materials are stored or used.
  • A trial run without radioactive material must be conducted for all new procedures. Radioactive material may be used only after the safety of the procedures has been assured.
  • The laboratory should be kept clean and organized so that contaminated items are clearly identified and confined to a local area. A sign clearly identifying the area(s) where radioactive materials are stored and used must be posted.
  • Any work performed with volatile material or operations that have a potential for personnel exposure or contamination must be performed in an appropriate hood or glove box. New procedures involving these types of materials must be approved by the Radiation Safety Committee prior to initiation.
  • All work surfaces must be covered with absorbent paper that is changed on a regular basis. Procedures with large volumes of material and/or material with high spill possibility must be done in an appropriate spill tray.
  • After each experiment, clean up the work area and place disposable materials (Pasteur pipettes, kimwipes, etc.) in a plastic bag for disposal before removing gloves.