How is a radioactive spill managed?
Spills of radioactive material are typically classified into major and minor types. Classification as a major or minor spill depends on the radiotracer. For example, a major spill is considered to have occurred with only 1 mCi of 131 I, but with greater than 100 mCi of 99m Tc, 201 Tl, or 67 Ga. The approach to cleaning up a radioactive spill is summarized below.
For both major and minor spills, individuals in the surrounding area should be warned, and the spill should be covered in an attempt to prevent further spread. Minor spills can be cleaned with soap and water, but major spills should be contained and cleanup should proceed under the direction of the radiation safety officer. Contaminated materials (e.g., clothing, paper towels, gloves, etc.) should be collected and either isolated for the appropriate period of time based on the radiotracer’s half-life or disposed of appropriately for that particular radiotracer.
Procedure for Managing a Radioactive Spill
- 1. Notify all persons in the area that a spill has occurred.
- 2. Prevent the spread of contamination by isolating the area and covering the spill (absorbent paper).
- 3. If clothing is contaminated, remove and place in plastic bag.
- 4. If an individual is contaminated, rinse contaminated region with lukewarm water and wash with soap.
- 5. Notify the radiation safety officer.
- 6. Wear gloves, disposable laboratory coat, and booties to clean up spill with absorbent paper.
- 7. Put all contaminated absorbent paper in labeled radioactive waste container.
- 8. Check the area or contaminated individual with appropriate radiation survey meter.