Radionuclide Lab Rules

Rules for Labs Using Unsealed Radioactive Material

  • Neatness in the lab is very important.  Contamination can be reduced by proper organization and work layout.
  • Wear lab coats and lab gloves when handling radioactive material.  See Chapter 15, Section 15.7 of the UIC Radiation Safety Manual for information regarding proper selection of gloves.
  • Monitor hands and clothing with a thin end-window Geiger counter frequently during experiments, especially before each work break and the end of the work day.  Wash gloved hands to remove contamination or change gloves when gloves become contaminated. 
  • Avoid wearing potentially contaminated gloves and lab coats into unrestricted areas, especially areas where food and beverages are stored or consumed.
  • Monitor bench tops, floors, equipment, and other objects that could become contaminated.
  • Secure radioactive material against unauthorized access.  Regulations require radionuclide labs to be closed and locked when unoccupied
  • Isolate, label and dispose of contaminated waste in accordance with approved guidelines.
  • Plan the procedure in detail and make cold runs before radioactive material is actually used.
  • Cover work areas with absorbent paper and remove all materials not required for the work at hand. Disposable absorbent pads are recommended for most applications.
  • Wear a laboratory coat and gloves when working with radioactive materials.
  • Label or post work area signs to define the area being used for radioactive work.
  • Eating, drinking, and smoking are prohibited in radionuclide labs. Food and beverages must not be stored in the lab or in a refrigerator/freezer containing radioactive materials.
  • Always use mechanical pipetting devices for radionuclide solutions. Pipetting of any materials by mouth is not permitted in laboratories where radioactive material is used or stored.
  • Change gloves at least every hour when working with 10 millicuries or more of tritium.
  • Handle potentially volatile compounds in properly operating fume hoods or other ventilated enclosures.  Use activated carbon filtering to purge stock vials and reaction vessels when performing iodinations.
  • Isolate, label, and dispose of radioactive waste according to approved guidelines.
  • Label and store radioactive materials properly.  Transport radioactive liquids in double containers with enough absorbent material to absorb the liquid in case of a spill.
  • Monitor counter tops, floor, and equipment at meaningful times, especially when contamination is possible.  Prevent the spread of contamination and decontaminate as soon as possible.
  • Wash hands frequently.  Monitor hands, clothing, and shoes before leaving the lab, especially when leaving for breaks, and lunch, and at the end of the work day.  Report unremovable skin contamination to Radiation Safety as soon as possible. Clean up spills immediately.
  • In case of a spill: 
    • Notify others in the room to avoid the contaminated area.Place absorbent material over the spill. 
    • Sprinkle baking soda over iodine spills.
    • Determine the area to be cleaned. Use a series of clean wipes to decontaminate the area. Avoid spreading the contamination.
    • All personnel and areas involved must be monitored to assure adequate decontamination before normal work is resumed.

Rules for Labs Using Sealed Sources

  • Only AUTHORIZED PROJECT PERSONNEL may handle the sources in this room. 
  • Sources must be handled in accordance with the instructions in the RADIATION PROJECT AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENTS.
  • Notify Radiation Safety to obtain approval prior to moving radiation sources to other authorized locations.
  • Sealed sources may not be removed from their source holders.
  • Sealed sources may not be opened.
  • Damage to sealed sources must be immediately reported to the Radiation Safety Section.
  • Contamination detected from a sealed source must be immediately reported to the Radiation Safety Section.
  • Radiation warning labels may not be removed from sealed sources or sealed source storage containers.The label should properly identify the radionuclide, activity, and date.
  • Return sources to storage when not in use. 
  • Unshielded sources should be attended by a knowledgeable individual at all times.Store sealed sources properly.  Where appropriate, return each source to its shielded storage container.  Post radioactive material identification signs on any drawer or cabinet in which a sealed source is stored.  Be sure radiation levels around storage locations do not exceed permissible limits.  Refer to Chapter 11, Sections 11.7 and 11.8 of the Radiation Safety Manual for additional information.
  • Gas chromatography detector cells containing H-3 sources must be vented through a laboratory fume hood or another suitable ventilation system approved by the Radiation Safety Section.
  • Transfers of sources to other UIC projects or to other institutions may be done only in accordance with instructions in the project authorization documents or the Radiation Safety Manual.
  • Notify the Radiation Safety Section if you wish to dispose of any sealed source as waste.

For more information about radiation safety or to sign up for radiation safety lectures, please call (312) 996-7429. For emergencies after normal working hours, call (312) 996-8440.