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Radiation Safety Manual



Radiation Safety Manual for Laboratory Users

SECTION 1: Radiation Spill and Incident Procedures

Who to Notify

What to Do

An accident may happen to even the most careful of workers, and any worker may be called upon to assist in the case of a spill, a contamination incident, or an emergency. Be prepared and know how to respond before an incident happens.

The following procedures provide an overview of who to notify and how to respond to several different types of incidents. Emergency Response Guidelines books which list incident contact phone numbers and procedures are posted near a telephone in every lab.

Who To Notify (top)


An incident can be readily handled with laboratory or other University resources and may include a spill of radioactive materials, an incident of personal contamination or a possible exposure to an x-ray source.

  • During normal working hours, call Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) at 8-5294, or
  • Outside normal working hours, call Public Safety at 8-1000.

In the event of a fire, explosion or serious injury:

  • First, call Public Safety at 911 anytime (use a campus phone to dial 911 or, if using a cell phone, dial 609-258-3333).
  • Second, during normal working hours, call EHS at 8-5294.
  • Third, contact any Laboratory or Departmental Emergency contacts listed on the bright yellow Emergency Information poster found on or near the entrance to the laboratory.

What to Do (top)

When a Spill Occurs or Contamination is Found

Refer to flowchart that explains how to respond in the event that a spill occurs in the lab, in the event that widespread contamination is found, and
how to perform decontamination.

For Skin and Body Contamination

  1. Notify EHS immediately whenever any case of skin or body contamination occurs.
  2. Note the original survey meter reading, the location of the contaminated area and the time of the contamination was discovered. EHS will use this information to calculate dose.
  3. Wash skin using mild soap and warm water for 2-3 minutes. Do not abrade skin or use hot water.
  4. Measure and record the count rate after the initial attempt at decontamination. Survey and repeat decontamination until the count rate cannot be reduced any further.
  5. If the skin becomes irritated, discontinue decontamination.
  6. When decontamination efforts are not immediately successful, often a substantial reduction in count rate is achieved during the next 24 hours with periodic washings with soap and water, combined with normal flaking of the skin.

A Serious Injury with Radioactive Contamination

Serious injury and life-or-death situations always take priority over radiological concerns. In all cases of physical injury, even minor injuries, medical attention and hospitalization take precedence over contamination concerns. There are no radiation sources at the University that produce contamination and radiation exposure risks large enough to prevent first aid from being given.

  1. Follow the Fire, Explosion & Serious Injury notification procedure. Public Safety responders are trained to provide first aid.
  2. If possible, have someone meet emergency response personnel and escort them to the accident scene.
  3. Remove contaminated items and clothing from the victim only if these actions will cause no further harm.
  4. If time permits, attempt to provide an uncontaminated pathway for the emergency crew.
  5. Have someone who can provide useful additional information accompany the victim to the emergency room.

Possible Overexposure to Sources of Radiation

The most likely scenario for a serious overexposure to radiation involves exposure to the primary beam of an x-ray diffractometer or to a high activity sealed source. In any case, notify EHS, who will provide additional instructions, based on the exposure conditions.

spill response


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