General Guidelines for Use of Radioactive Material

Guidelines for the Safe Use of Isotopes


The procurement, use and disposal of all radioactive materials are regulated by the specific radioactive materials license issued by the New York State Department of Health - Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection. This license provides for the appointment of a Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) who will oversee the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) and a comprehensive, compliant radiation safety program.

The following rules must be posted in each lab where isotopes are used as required by Section 16.13 (b), New York State Sanitary Code (10 NYCRR 16).

Prior to performing operations with quantities of radioactive material which may produce significant external or internal exposure, attention shall be given by the user to precautionary measures including the use of remote handling devices, hoods, shielding, etc. The Radiation Safety Officer must be consulted before beginning any new use of radioactive material.

ALL protocols involving the use of radioactive materials must have prior approval by the RSO and RSC. Each separate protocol will be issued a protocol number.

All radioactive materials will be procured through the RSO.

The RSO will receive all shipments of radioactive material.

Radioactive materials are to be used only at approved locations and by licensed faculty.

Approved faculty users must be present at all times when stock isotopes are being used.

Students are NOT permitted to dispense stock isotope materials. They must be provided appropriate radiation safety training if they are to use radioactive materials.

There shall be no eating, drinking, applying cosmetics or preparation of food in any location where unsealed sources of radioactive materials are used or stored.

Smoking is prohibited in locations where unsealed sources of radioactive materials are used or stored.

Do not store food, drink, or personal effects in proximity to radioactive materials.

Pipetting of radioactive solutions by mouth is prohibited.

Segregate pipetting devices used with radioactive materials from those used with non-radioactive solutions.

Lab coats and disposable gloves shall be worn during operations involving the handling of unsealed sources of radioactive material. The lab coat and gloves should be removed before leaving the laboratory. Care must be taken such that other items (e.g., pens, pencils, notebooks, door knobs, telephones, etc.) are NOT handled with gloves that were used during work with radioactive materials.

Work which may result in contamination of work surfaces shall be done over plastic-backed absorbent paper. Trays made of impervious materials (i.e., stainless steel, porcelain-coated, etc.) and lined with absorbent paper provide excellent work arrangements to help prevent the spread of contamination.

Work surfaces and personnel should be monitored after working with radioactive materials. Monitors must be present in the lab when radioactive materials are being used.

Where there has been a spill of radioactive material (see posted Spill Procedures) which may have produced contamination of the person or clothing, both the person and the clothing shall be monitored. Personnel contamination shall be removed as soon as possible.

Where contamination above action levels is noted during a laboratory survey, decontamination must be immediately initiated by the user. The action level is 200 dpm above background.

After working with unsealed sources of radioactive material, hands should be monitored and washed before leaving the laboratory.

Objects and equipment that may have been contaminated with radioactive material shall be surveyed and demonstrated to be free of contamination prior to their removal from a laboratory, or transferred to other laboratories, repair shops, surplus, etc. If found to be contaminated, such items must be decontaminated as soon as practical.

If personnel monitoring devices (whole-body or ring badge) have been issued to you for your work with radioactive material, they must be worn at all times when in areas where these materials are used or stored. These devices should be worn as prescribed by the Radiation Safety Officer. Personnel monitoring devices should be stored in a designated low background area when they are not being worn to monitor occupational exposures. They should NOT be left on your lab coat or shared by another individual.

Dispose of radioactive waste only in the manner designated by the Radiation Safety Officer and maintain records as instructed. Only licensed faculty may dispose of radioactive materials.

All solid waste and waste for decay in storage (DIS) must be packaged and placed into storage in a timely manner and with the direct supervision of the RSO.

Liquid scintillation fluids must be water miscible and biodegradable.

Store radioactive materials in covered containers plainly identified and labeled with name of compound, radionuclide, date, activity, and radiation level, if applicable.

Always transport radioactive material in an appropriately shielded containers.