One cannot give working rules to apply to all situations. The activity level and hazard class of isotopes being used will determine the degree of precaution required. The following list of regulations, however, is intended to minimize internal and external hazards, to prevent technical contamination of the laboratory, and to specifically comply with U.S. government rules. General principles which should always be followed include:
a) Handling of and exposure to radioactive materials should be kept to a minimum.
b) If you don't understand a direction, question the instructor.
c) Consult the instructor in the event of any spill or suspected spill.
SPECIFIC RULES (from Wang, et al., 1975.)
1) Eating, storing, or preparing food, smoking or applying cosmetics is forbidden in any area where radioactive materials are stored or used.
2) Direct contact with radioactive materials must be avoided by using protective laboratory coats, wearing rubber or disposable gloves, and employing safety pipetors. Pipetting by mouth is strictly forbidden.
3) All spills of radioactive material must be reported to the instructor and the person in charge of radiation safety immediately, and should be marked clearly. Decontamination should be carried out as soon as possible.
4) In the event of a spill:
a) any liquid should be blotted up immediately. Wear gloves!
b) attempts should be made to prevent spreading
c) access to the spilled area should be restricted.
d) a radiation survey of the area and person(s) involved should be made immediately.
5) Work should be carried out in a hood in all cases where radioactive material may be lost by volatilization, dispersion of dust, or by spraying or splattering. Wherever possible, work with closed containers and material which is in a non-volatile and non-dispersing physical form should be used. All work is to be carried out on trays or work areas covered with absorbent, plastic-backed paper.
6) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set up exposure limits for all individuals working with radiation. For adults, this limit is 5 rems per year, but for individuals under 18 it is lower, and the limitation for unborn children has been proposed to 0.5 rems for the nine month pregnancy term. During routine laboratory work and research, you will be exposed to a much lower level of radioactivity, but your instructor/supervisor can provide you with further information.
7) All radioactive samples should be carefully and properly labeled with the type of isotope and activity. All samples should be sealed or covered, and small vials or tubes kept in racks to avoid spillage. Movement of radioisotopes within or between rooms should be kept to a minimum, and isotopes should be transported only in suitable, protected containers or racks.
8) Liquid wastes should be poured into designated containers. No waste should be poured down a drain except by a licensed user, and in accordance with the Middlebury College Standard Operating Procedures for Radioactive Waste Disposal. All contaminated apparatus and glassware should be decontaminated before being reused. If used routinely for radioisotope work, such items should be segregated from other laboratory apparatus and glassware.
9) The disposal of solid wastes and contaminated articles (corks, paper wipes, and the like) should be put into designated containers and under no circumstances into ordinary trash receptacles.
10) Before leaving the laboratory after working with radioactive materials, each person should wash his or her hands and check them with a monitoring instrument.
Wang, Willis, and Loveland , "Radiotracer Methodology in the Biological, Environmental, and Physical Sciences", Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Prime, D. and Frith, B. 1990. Radioisotope Use in
Radioisotopes in Biology, R. J. Slater (ed.). IRL Press; New York . p. 7-30.
In the event of any type of emergency, please see Emergency Contacts.