Radiation Safety

E-Response

It is the responsibility of the laboratory Authorized User to ensure that either the laboratory is free of contamination or that contaminated areas within the laboratory are properly posted and demarcated.  

All “Major Releases” will be handled by those appointed by the Director of Radiation Safety. ONLY those individuals appointed and properly trained may handle a Major Release. 

It is the responsibility of the radiation worker who causes the “Contamination” or a “Minor Release” to decontaminate the area as soon as practical. The Authorized User is ultimately responsible for any contamination found in his or her laboratory.  

NOTE: A Minor Release or Contamination Release shall not be left unattended. If the contamination is bound or cannot be removed from a site, the radiation worker or Authorized User must notify the Radiation Safety Office and, if required, the area must be posted as a contamination area.

  1. Evaluate the accident and call for help. The first person to observe the accident should try to quickly estimate the severity of the situation and evacuate personnel to a safe place such as an assembly or check point. The Radiation Safety Officer and the facility supervisor should be notified as soon as possible.
  2. Confine the hazard. If possible, secure the area and stand in a safe area nearby to provide information and assistance. Reduce the spread of contamination by limiting travel from the area and by checking yourself and the area for contamination.
  3. Protect Personnel. Warn other persons in the immediate vicinity and assist any persons who may be contaminated or injured.
  4. If the situation requires additional assistance, emergency action personnel who have been notified of the situation will take over after this first phase of the accident. They will prescribe additional action to be taken and begin restoration to normal operating conditions.


  1. NOTIFY: Notify the people in the immediate area that contamination is present to avoid inadvertent contact with the contamination.
  2. PREVENT THE SPREAD: Cover the release with absorbent material, and prevent access to the area by unauthorized personnel. If you have questions on how to properly clean the area, the Radiation Safety Office (x43372, x43373) is available to provide assistance.
  3. CLEAN UP: Use disposable gloves and, if necessary, remote handling tongs. A graded approach typically is used to remove contamination. First, absorb any liquids, use a moist paper towel to remove contamination and, if necessary, use soap and water to remove any remaining contamination. Carefully fold any used paper towels or absorbent material and insert it into a plastic bag for disposal as radioactive waste. Other contaminated materials, such as disposable gloves, also should be placed in the plastic bag. 
  4. VERIFY: Using an appropriate contamination monitor, verify that: the area around the release, your hands, your shoes, and your clothing are free of contamination. While a thin window Geiger Muller detector is appropriate for most isotopes, a thin window NaI detector should be used for I-125 contamination assays and wipe tests should be used for alpha emitters and low-energy beta emitters (e.g. C-14, H-3). NOTE: Appendix VII and VIII in the safety manual have instructions for properly performing Radiation Surveys and for properly using Portable Survey Meters.
  5. SURVEY: Once the area is decontaminated, perform a formal contamination survey of the laboratory paying close attention to the area around the release. The results of this survey must be recorded and maintained by the Authorized User.  

  1. NOTIFY: Notify the people in the immediate area that a release has occurred.
  2. PREVENT THE SPREAD: Cover the spill with absorbent material, and prevent access to the area by unauthorized personnel. If you have questions on how to properly clean the area, the Radiation Safety Office (x43372, x43373) is available to provide assistance.
  3. CLEAN UP: Use disposable gloves and, if necessary, remote handling tongs. A graded approach typically is used to remove contamination. First, absorb any liquids, use a moist paper towel to remove contamination and, if necessary, use soap and water to remove any remaining contamination. Carefully fold any used paper towels or absorbent material and insert it into a plastic bag for disposal as radioactive waste. Other contaminated materials, such as disposable gloves, also should be placed in the plastic bag.
  4. VERIFY: Using an appropriate contamination monitor, verify that: the area around the release, your hands, your shoes, and your clothing are free of contamination. While a thin window Geiger Muller detector is appropriate for most isotopes, a thin window NaI detector should be used for I-125 contamination assays and wipe tests should be used for alpha emitters and low-energy beta emitters (e.g. C-14, H-3). NOTE: Appendix VII and VIII in the safety manual have instructions for properly performing Radiation Surveys and for properly using Portable Survey Meters
  5. SURVEY: Once the area is decontaminated, perform a formal contamination survey of the laboratory paying close attention to the area around the release. The results of this survey must be recorded and maintained by the Authorized User. 
  6. REPORT: Report the incident to the Radiation Safety Office (x43372).                           

  1. CLEAR THE AREA: Notify all persons to vacate the room. Notify the Authorized User of the release. 
  2. CALL FOR HELP: Notify the Radiation Safety Office (x43372, x43373) and the University Police (x44911) immediately. 
  3. PREVENT THE SPREAD: If possible, cover the release with absorbent material but do not attempt to clean it up. Confine the movement of any potentially contaminated personnel to limit the spread of contamination outside of the laboratory. 
  4. SHIELD THE SOURCE: If possible, the release should be shielded if it can be done without further contamination or without significantly increasing personnel radiation exposure. 
  5. CLOSE THE ROOM: Leave the room and lock the door(s) to prevent entry. 
  6. PERSONNEL DECONTAMINATION: If life-threatening injuries are present, the individual should be given immediate life-saving first aid and transported to a hospital for further medical treatment regardless of any contamination present. Mildly injured persons should have first aid performed as necessary and decontaminated. The hospital should be given prior notification that the patient may be contaminated so that appropriate controls can be implemented. Contaminated clothing from uninjured people should be removed and stored for further evaluation by the RSO. For contamination of intact skin, flush thoroughly and wash with mild soap and lukewarm water.

During a loss of power, a laboratory which possesses radioactive material that must be maintained in a fume hood or stored in a refrigerated condition could result in the spread of airborne contamination. The following procedures should be followed:

  1. CLEAR THE AREA: Notify all persons to vacate the restricted area. Notify the RSO or designee if necessary.
  2. HAVE A SURVEY PERFORMED BY THE RSO OR DESIGNEE: After the power is restored, use an appropriate survey instrument to check the area in vicinity of the fume hood or radioactive material storage area. Take swipe tests of the area of concern. Check the airflow into the hood.
  3. RETURN TO THE AREA: If no abnormal reading were found, proceed with CLEAN UP and SURVEY steps as stated above in MINOR SPILLS.