Using Radioactive Materials Safely    

The following rules have been developed to ensure the safe use of radioactive materials in our laboratories:

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On-line access or a current copy of the Radiation Safety Manual should be available to all personnel and students.

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  • Wear buttoned laboratory coats or other protective clothing at all times while working with radioactive materials.

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  • Wear disposable gloves while handling radioactive materials. Change gloves periodically during lengthy or repetitive procedures. (Double gloving is recommended)

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  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in any area designated as a radioactive work or storage area.

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  • Do not store food, drink, or personal effects in any area designated as a radioactive work area, or where radioactive materials are stored.

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    If applicable, wear personnel monitoring devices at all times while in areas designated as radioactive work areas. These devices should be worn as prescribed by the Radiation Safety Officer. When not being worn to monitor occupational exposures, personnel monitoring devices should be stored in a low-background area.

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    Personnel working with P-32 must also wear finger exposure monitors when handling this radionuclide.  (See the Use of P-32 in the laboratory)

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    Dispose of radioactive waste only in designated, labeled, and properly shielded receptacles. Radioactive waste containers should be kept closed.

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  • Never pipette by mouth.

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  • Notify the Radiation Safety Officer of all spills except those of a very minor nature. (See Emergency Procedures) Also, report accidental ingestion, inhalation or injury.

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  • Always work with radioactive solutions on plastic-backed absorbent paper or impervious trays. Store and transport radioactive materials in containers, so as to prevent spillage and to ensure adequate shielding.

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    Use careful experimental planning, dry runs, shielding, distance and monitoring for minimizing exposure. Dry runs are when procedures are rehearsed before radioactive materials are actually used. Dry runs without radionuclides shoul be done before new uses of energetic beta emitters like P-32. Eye protection should also be used when working with millicurie quantities of P-32 to shield the lens of the eye.

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    Confine radioactive stock solutions in shielded containers that are clearly labeled.

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  • Materials which could become airborne must be used and stored in a working hood. Hood ventilation should be left "on" at all times.

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  • After completing your project, but before leaving the radioactive work area, you should clean up to prevent the unknown spread of contamination. Monitor your work area and your hands, shoes, surfaces and clothing with an appropriate survey meter. Survey for I-125 and P-32 immediately after use.

  • Take only prepared samples into counting areas. No potentially contaminated materials or apparatus are permitted in any counting areas, unless authorized by the Radiation Safety Officer. Additionally, radioactive samples should not be stored in counting rooms.
    Maintain proper records of receipt, use, transfer and disposal of radioactive materials.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after handling radionuclides, before eating or smoking and on completion of work.
  • Radionuclides and wastes MUST be secured against theft or unauthorized access. That is, they must be locked up or kept in locked laboratories when laboratory personnel are not present.

    University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South Forty-third Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495 • phone: 215-596-8800 • email: safety@usp.edu