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The following practices must be followed each and every time unsealed radioactive material is handled.
Handle and store radioactive material only in specifically designated and authorized locations. Posting must include the message: Caution - Radioactive Material and display the radiation symbol when required. Doors of refrigerators and incubators in which radioactive materials are stored and doors to labs using radioactive materials must be labeled.
Properly dress and cover open wounds before working with radioactive materials.
Wear disposable gloves at all times when handling radioactive material or potentially contaminated items. EH&S recommends that two pairs of disposable gloves be worn when working with millicurie amounts of 3H,125I or 131I. The outer pair should be changed frequently to prevent the radioactive material from permeating the glove.
Wear lab coats and safety glasses when working with radioactive material and remove them when leaving the work area or lab. Due to possible chemical exposure to legs, all workers handling hazardous materials should wear pants or the equivalent.
After each procedure and before leaving the area, monitor hands, shoes, and clothing (lab coat) for contamination using an appropriate radiation detection instrument.
Properly survey the work area for contamination during and after each procedure and at the end of the day. If any contamination is found, decontaminate before leaving the work area.
Remember, time, distance and shielding are the means of reducing the radiation dose when working with radioactive material. Plan work in advance to save time. Use tongs, clamps, tweezers, etc., to provide distance from the source. Use appropriate shielding to reduce the radiation.
Wear a dosimeter properly and when required.
Use appropriate shielding for each type of radionuclide. For example, shield 32P with 3/8 inch of Plexiglas. 125I can be shielded with 1/8 inch of lead sheeting or lead glass equivalent.
Use mechanical devices such as tongs, clamps, tweezers, etc., when manipulating radioactive materials to help minimize exposure.
In laboratories that use unsealed radioactive material or other hazardous materials, no eating or drinking is allowed anywhere in the laboratory. No storage of food or beverages for human consumption is allowed in laboratories, cold rooms, freezers, deli coolers, or refrigerators used for storage or use of hazardous materials, including radioactive materials.
Do not pipette by mouth.
Use disposable absorbent material with impervious backing to cover work surfaces wherever radioactive material is used. Clearly label the work area with radioactive tape and identify the radionuclide and amount of radioactive material in use.
Store radioactive material in clearly labeled and tightly closed containers. Secure against unauthorized removal. If stock vials are left unattended for more than five minutes, they should be locked up or the room itself should be locked.
When opening or handling volatile radionuclides or those with the potential to volatilize, use radioisotope fume hoods. Unbound 125I or 131I (NaI) can be more volatile at lower pH’s. Large amounts of 35S have been known to volatilize. Products labeled with 3H (tritium) can be volatile when stored in a chemical solvent. Tritiated products become especially volatile when the solvent is evaporated.
Sharps contaminated with radioactive material must be placed in sharps containers labeled for radioactive material.
Only dispose of radioactive materials in specially designated and clearly identified waste containers. Do not use biohazard bags for radioactive wastes. Radioactive liquid waste must be completely absorbed before disposal. If liquid scintillation vials are used, EH&S will accept plastic and glass liquid scintillation vials for pickup. Follow the radioactive waste disposal procedures in Chapter VI, Hazardous Waste Directory.
Double-contain radioactive material for transport through hallways. Use carts where practical.
There are only three LSC products currently approved by the Washington Department of Ecology for disposal in the sanitary sewer. They are soluble (or readily dispersible) in water and contain less than 10% non-ionic surfactants. These products are:
Whenever possible, use one of the products listed above. Do not use LSC fluids that contain toluene or xylene without EH&S approval.
See Chapter VI, Hazardous Waste Directory, Section 7.3 for more information on waste disposal.