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Radioactive Material Safety

Sign used to post areas where radioactive materials are being used.

caution radioactive materials pink and yellow sign
Radioactive Material Caution Sign

Radioactive Material Safety Overview

Applies to

This program applies to all individuals who plan on using radioisotopes in their research or during diagnostic procedures such as nuclear medicine and supports related analytical instruments such as moisture and density gauges.

Requirements

All researchers must develop protocols and obtain authorization before beginning work. In addition, specific training requirements must be met and approvals given by the Radiation Safety Committee and/or the radiation safety officer. Principles for working safely, general procedure requirements, and details for area set-up are included in the written program. Failure to follow or meet expectations may lead to a loss of approval for radioisotope use at the university.


Radioactive Material Safety Online Program

Purpose

The Radioactive Material Safety Program has been developed to facilitate the safe handling of radioisotopes at Virginia Tech and related locations.   

Application

This program covers all faculty, staff, and students working with radioisotopes on campus and off-site locations. This includes research laboratories, diagnostic procedures and treatments, field studies, and facility work involving specific analytical measurements. The program incorporates the Virginia Department of Radiological Health and the Nuclear Regulatory regulations and recommendations in a concise, formal document for use by the university community. 

Caution Radioactive Material: Door posting to indicate radioactive material use. Copies are also available from Environmental Health & Safety.

Emergency Contacts: Who to contact in case of emergency.

Emergency Procedures: What to do in case of emergency.

General Laboratory Rules: Rules for a safe working environment.

Noncompliance: 

Sec. 206, Energy Reorganization Act, 1974

  • (a) Any individual director or responsible officer of a firm constructing, owning, operating or supplying the components of any facility or activity which is licensed or otherwise regulated pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended, or pursuant to this Act, who obtains information reasonable indicating that such a facility or activity or basic components supplied to such facility or activity- 
  1. fails to comply with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or any applicable rule, regulation, order or license of the Commission relating to substantial safety hazards, or
  2. Contains a defect which could create a substantial safety hazard, as defined by regulations which the Commission shall promulgate, shall immediately notify the Commission of such failure to comply, or of such defect unless such person has actual knowledge that the Commission has been adequately informed of such defect or failure to comply.
  • (b) Any person who knowingly and consciously fails to provide the notice required by subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount equal to the amount provided by section 234 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.
  • (c) The requirements of this section shall be prominently posted on the premises of any facility licensed or otherwise regulated pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.
  • (d) The Commission is authorized to conduct such reasonable inspections and other enforcement activities as needed to ensure compliance with the provisions of this section.

Food Permitted

Food Prohibited

Informed Individuals

Virginia Notice to Employees: Required posting detailing the Virginia Department of Health's established standards of protection for areas using radiation materials and/or radiation-emitting instrumentation.  Referenced to NRC Form 3 (no longer in use).   

MEMORANDUM 89-1

TO: Principal Users of Radioisotopes
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Incident Involving Isotope Use in an Unapproved Area

Recently, it was found that isotopes were being used in an unauthorized room. This could have been a serious problem because routine contamination surveys were not performed. Fortunately, no high levels of contamination were found during the investigation that followed and no uptake of radioactivity was detected in laboratory personnel. In addition, the researcher involved did not wear gloves and allowed an unauthorized individual to perform isotope work.

The Disciplinary Subcommittee of the Radiation Safety Committee met to determine if any disciplinary actions were necessary. After the investigation report was discussed and the researcher was interviewed, it was decided that this was a Class II (serious) violation. The researcher was suspended for 30 days, pending the submittal and approval of a plan for future isotope use in full compliance with all University rules.

This incident clearly demonstrates a loss of control and a lack of attention to the responsibilities of each isotope user. The primary responsibility of each user is to work safely with isotopes. This involves: maintaining records properly, using safe work techniques, performing adequate contamination surveys, and reporting any unsafe conditions. The purpose of reporting unsafe conditions is to ensure safe working conditions for the protection of all laboratory personnel.

Please ensure that all users under your supervision read this memo. To document their understanding, have them initial by their name on the attached list. Save this memo for review by any new personnel and for review during any annual inspection of the laboratory.

MEMORANDUM 89-2

TO: Principal Users of Radioisotopes
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Corrective Actions Associated With Recent Problems

During the past several months three problems have occurred in laboratories at the university involving the use of isotopes. The following is a brief discussion of these problems and steps that should be taken to prevent recurrences.

One laboratory was found to be discarding aqueous 5-35 waste down the sink in excess of the 1 uCi/day limit. The actual amounts discarded were 2-3 uCi/day. After the incident was investigated, a Class I citation was issued to the Laboratory Head. The releases occurred because the activity in the liquid was checked with a portable survey instrument. Survey instruments cannot be used to detect low-energy beta emitters in solution because the liquid absorbs the majority of the betas. These beta emitters must be assayed with a liquid scintillation counter. This principle should also be applied to area and equipment monitoring. Only dry surfaces can be monitored with a portable survey instrument.

Another laboratory borrowed a tissue homogenizer from a laboratory that had been using the homogenizer with radioactive preparations but was not labeled as radioactive. Fortunately, the borrower quickly instituted contamination control once it was known to be contaminated and no spread of contamination occurred. A Notice of Concern was issued to the Laboratory Head. This problem demonstrates the importance of properly labeling all equipment used in isotope work. Ideally, laboratories should segregate radioactive work areas and equipment from non-radioactive ones. When this is not feasible, initial by their name on the attached list. Save this memo for review by any new personnel and for review during my annual inspection of the laboratory.

MEMORANDUM 89-3

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Spill of C-14 Liquid Waste

At one point a laboratory had a 9-uCi spill of C-14 liquid waste. A 4-liter bottle used for liquid waste was broken and its contents were released onto the floor. A lengthy decontamination effort was necessary to clean up the spill. Four days were required to complete the decontamination because the majority of the contamination fixed into the floor tiles.

This spill identified several practices that should be modified. A number of radioactive and non-radioactive liquid waste bottles were being stored underneath some equipment in the laboratory. Radioactive waste must be stored separately from any other wastes to avoid any potential mixing of radioactive and chemical liquid wastes. A mixture would compound clean-up since no method of disposal is currently available for mixed wastes. To immediately improve storage safety, bottles must be stored inside protective boxes or kept inside of a tray to collect contents if bottles are broken. Also, liquid waste must not be stored on floor areas in or near-normal traffic areas.

The long-term solution to bottle breakage potentials will be to change the type of containers used. When additional liquid waste containers are needed, please use 1 or 5-gallon heavy-duty plastic containers (available from the Radiation Safety Office) or use safety coated reagent bottles. This requirement is effective immediately.

A general radioactive waste pickup is scheduled once every 3 months. Because waste storage areas vary greatly the work areas and equipment must be monitored for contamination before non-radioactive work can be done.

The prompt clean-up of the spill was hindered because the floor was not waxed. A waxed floor would have made decontamination easier because the contamination may not have penetrated the wax. It is strongly recommended that laboratory floors be routinely waxed.

Please have all isotope users under your supervision read this memo. This must be documented by signing off on the attached personnel list. Call me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions.

Please call me at 540-231-5364 if you have any questions. A listing of personnel is attached to expedite the documentation that each person reads this memo. Maintain this memo for future inspections.

MEMORANDUM 90-1

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT. Faulty Sarstedt Screwcap Microfuge Tubes, MEMO 90-01

I have been informed of a faulty batch of microfuge tubes that were purchased on 12/89. Approximately 5% of the tubes have holes in the end causing leaks during centrifugation. Sarstedt has been informed of the problem and is replacing the faulty tubes. The screwcap tubes involved are from batch ~W10951 catalog ~72.692.

Please take the necessary actions to replace any tubes that have been purchased from this batch. Do not attempt to use any of the tubes from the affected batch.

Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign off this memo.

MEMORANDUM 90-2

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Actions Needed to Address NRC Concerns, Memo

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission performed an inspection of the University's radioactive material license. The following four concerns were identified:

  •  Some thyroid scans after iodination were missed, inadequate evaluation of 1-125 release from an unfiltered fume hood, apparent eating and drinking were not authorized, and a lack of written procedures for safely opening packages of radioactive material. Each of these concerns is addressed below including the corrective actions that need to be taken.
  • Thyroid scans after iodination procedures are very important to determine if any uptake occurs. The limit of uptake for the thyroid is only 0.5 uCi. Thyroid scans are required when 1 mCi or greater is used at one time or within 3 months. Scans must be done on the individuals who perform iodination as well as any others present in the area. The easiest routine would be to have a thyroid scan 24 - 72 hours after any iodination procedure. I will be reviewing compliance during the annual inspections. As an additional reminder, purchases of NaI will not be allowed unless recent thyroid scans have been performed.
  • The performance of iodination’s in unfiltered fume hoods is undesirable. Release limits to the environment through fume hoods are very low and restrict the use of free iodine to less than 15 mCi (decay corrected) per year. Because of these constraints, the investigator and RSO must perform release calculations prior to any new uses of NaI in unfiltered hoods. It is strongly recommended to avoid the use of unfiltered hoods. A charcoal-filtered mini-hood should be purchased and used inside of the unfiltered hoods. The purchase of small quantities (1 mCi) of NaI can reduce the release problem. Withdrawal of the NaI stocks using a Hamilton syringe can also reduce the release problem because less activity is available for volatilization.
  • Our radiation safety rules permit eating and drinking in laboratories, but not within the radioisotope work areas. In order to clarify any confusion that may exist, each authorization is to submit consumption areas by June 1, 1990 for approval. The ideal proposal would prohibit consumption in any laboratory where isotopes are used or stored. Any laboratory where free iodine or other volatile chemical forms are present must prohibit consumption. If the allowance of consumption within the laboratory would be desirable, desk areas may be approved on an individual basis. In order to clearly define the requested consumption areas, submit sketches that indicate these areas and also designate 1 hot sink. I will review, approve, establish zones and post doors and sinks appropriately.
  • A procedure for safely opening packages containing radioactive material has been written and is attached. This procedure indicates the responsibilities of the Radiation Safety Office as well as the laboratories. Begin immediately following this procedure. It will be added to the Radiation Safety Handbook.

A summary of this lengthy memo is: 

  • Have thyroid scans after iodinations.
  • Discourage iodination in unfiltered hoods and perform release calculations.
  • Submit consumption area designations.
  • Follow package opening procedures.

Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign off this memo. Call me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions.

PROCEDURE FOR OPENING PACKAGES CONTAINING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

All radioactive material should be received by the Radiation Safety Office.

  • Procedure followed by the Radiation Safety Office: 
  • Visually inspect the package for any sign of damage.
  • Perform meter surveys if required to ensure that the exposure limits are not exceeded (Only Yellow II and Yellow III packages).
  • If radiation levels are found on the package surface to exceed 200 mrem/hr the NRC at. Region TI will be immediately contacted by telephone (404-331-4503) as well as the final delivery carrier.
  • If radiation levels are found 3 feet from the package to exceed 10 mrem/hr, the NRC and the final delivery carrier will be contacted immediately by telephone.
  • Wipe test the external surface of each package to ensure that removable contamination limits are not exceeded.
  • If removable contamination levels are found on the package surface in excess of 22,000 dpm/1OO sq. cm1 the NRC and the final delivery carrier will be contacted immediately by telephone.
  • Verify that the packing slip agrees with the purchase order.
  • Place the appropriate information in the Radioactive Material Receipt Log.
  • Deliver the package to the appropriate laboratory.
  • Procedure followed by the individual laboratories: 
    • Wear gloves to prevent hand contamination.
    • Open the package using the following precautions: 
  1.    Remove the packing slip.
  2. Open the outer package following the supplier's instructions, if provided.
  3. Open the inner package and verify that the contents agree with the packing slip.
  4. Check the integrity of the final source container. Look for broken seals or vials, loss of liquid, condensation, or discoloration of the packing material.
  5. If anything is other than expected, stop and immediately notify the Radiation Safety Office.
  6. If there is any reason to suspect contamination, wipe the external surface of the stock vial and analyze with a liquid scintillation counter. The detection efficiency must be determined to convert cpm to dpm.
  7. Monitor the packing material and the empty packages for contamination with an appropriate survey meter or wipe test before discarding.
  8. If greater than 220 dpm, treat this material as radioactive waste.
  9. If not contaminated, remove or obliterate the radiation labels before discarding in normal trash.

MEMORANDUM 90-03

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Recent Incidents Involving the Use and Storage of Isotopes

There have been several problems involving isotopes at the university in the past few months. One laboratory was unable to locate a small amount of C 14 contained in a stock solution. This material was most likely inadvertently discarded with samples when a freezer was cleaned out. The solution to this problem was to move the storage of isotopes into a secure and well-marked box within the freezer. I recommend that all laboratories develop well-defined isotope storage areas within refrigerators and freezers to avoid any future accidental removals.

Another incident involved a researcher splashing a drop of 5 35 solution into an eye. This solution was being applied to a gel when the pipette tip hit the electrophoresis equipment and flicked a drop into the person's 5 eye. Prompt actions to flush and clean the eye were successful, but the basic cause was no eye protection being worn. The general rule of wearing eye protection during any wet lab techniques will prevent this type of problem from reoccurring.

The last problem involved an individual sticking their finger with a syringe needle that had contained H 3. This incident occurred because improper techniques were used when covering the used needle. One proper technique would be to slide the needle into the cover without touching it, and then to tighten the cover in place.

The corrective actions taken for these incidents should be instituted into your procedures immediately. Contact me at 15364 if there are any questions. Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign off this memo.

MEMORANDUM 90-04

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: SERIOUS P-32 CONTAMINATION PROBLEM

A laboratory recently experienced a significant contamination problem during the use of P-32 in conjunction with a homogenizer (Polytron). This incident had the potential to cause significant internal and external radiation exposures.

THE USE OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL IN HOMOGENIZING DEVICES MUST BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY.

Each laboratory that has any devices of this nature must perform a detailed contamination survey in the vicinity and have the procedure reviewed by me prior to any continuation. If you have been using this type of device with radioactive material at any time, CONTACT ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Consider all potential aerosol-producing situations such as heating and mixing operations. A table of spray factors is attached that can be useful in determining p0tentials when radioactive constituents are used. IF THERE IS ANY QUESTION OF WHETHER AEROSOLS MAY BE PRODUCED, STOP THIS OPERATION IMMEDIATELY AND CONTACT ME.

A brief description of the incident follows. Approximately 14 mCi of P-32 orthophosphate was injected into rats. These animals were sacrificed after 12 hours with various tissues being removed. These tissues contained approximately 1 mCi of P-32. Tissues were homogenized using a Polytron. This use created a significant aerosol that highly contaminated the immediate work area and the researcher's lab coat. The laboratory was required to be closed for two days to complete decontamination activities.

The laboratory was completely cleaned except for several areas where the contamination fixed into a benchtop and the floor. No spread of contamination from the laboratory was found to exist. Urinalysis results were negative for all laboratory personnel that could have been involved. Two of these personnel were pregnant at the time.

Once an incident is resolved, the most important aspect is to learn from our mistakes. A number of procedural weaknesses have been identified. Operations that have the potential for producing aerosols must be reviewed carefully. This review would include the performance of dry runs without radioactivity in order to ascertain if any potential hazards could exist. Radiation survey instruments must be used properly. Prior to each use of an instrument used to detect contamination, an operational check must be performed to include: a battery test, a calibration date check, and a response check to a known source of radiation. The survey instrument must be turned on (including the audio feature) and located at the work area prior to beginning ANY procedures. This facilitates the ability to frequently monitor gloves during any operation without touching the instrument. Lab coats, personal clothing, gloves, and hands must be checked frequently for contamination. The work area must not be left unless protective clothing has been checked for contamination. If contamination is detected, these articles must not be worn outside of the designated work area. These checks must be performed by moving the gloved hand, for example, over the probe at a rate of one inch per second or SLOWER. During surface and equipment checks1 the entire work area must be carefully monitored. In this particular incident, contamination levels on the Polytron were much less than the backsplash of the lab bench. This backsplash was not surveyed by lab personnel.

The finger badge must be worn under gloves with the label turned inward so that the maximum exposure is recorded. During this incident, the badge was worn facing out and may not have recorded the true exposure.

MEMORANDUM 91-01

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Floor Contamination Incident, MEMO 91-01

During a recent inspection of a laboratory, contamination surveillance revealed floor contamination levels of approximately 30,000 dpm. The laboratory was closed while the decontamination activities were performed by radiation safety personnel. The lab was cleaned and released in a matter of a few hours

This incident occurred when a pipette tip was placed into a waste bucket that was located on the floor near the work area. Apparently, a drop of concentrated solution fell to the floor. Lab personnel performed daily meter surveys of the work area but did not survey the floor area. A Class I citation was issued because the surveys performed were not sufficient to find this floor contamination.

The most important aspect of any incident is that we learn from problems. Floor areas in close proximity to your work areas must be included in the daily surveillance routines. Small secondary waste containers should be used to collect waste while experiments are in progress. At the conclusion of the work, the containers should be carefully emptied into the primary waste containers.

The corrective actions taken for this incident should be instituted into your procedures. Contact me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions. Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign off this memo.

Memorandum 91-02

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: NRC Inspection in November, MEMO 91-02

The University was inspected by the NRC in November as a result of the serious P-32 contamination incident that occurred in October. The inspection report received on February 12 cited two violations of the regulations and our license. This letter is available in my office if you would like to read it in detail. The citation requires the University to take specific steps which will affect our management program and the manner in which radioactive materials are used in the laboratories. This memo is intended to inform you of changes that must be implemented.

The first violation involved a technical review of procedures. Sufficiently thorough and documented radiation hazard analyses have not been performed on applications for use of radioactive material by the Radiation Safety Officer and the Radiation Safety Committee. A program to address this issue must be initiated.

The other violation was related to NRC reporting requirements. Corrective actions to remedy this problem will not affect your operations. However, the incident does reinforce the importance of promptly notifying the RSO whenever an accident occurs.

The citation also expressed concern about the staffing level of the Radiation Safety Office, relative to the size of the University's research program. The NRC clearly felt that our ability to oversee operations must be strengthened.

Four corrective actions have been identified to resolve the concerns raised by the incident and the NRC inspection. To ensure that all procedures utilizing radioactive material have sufficient consideration given to the potential radiation hazards1 a formal radiological hazards analysis program has been developed. This program will be implemented within the next few weeks. It will primarily involve written hazard analyses of all protocols by laboratory Authorities followed by a review by myself, the Chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee, and the Radiation Safety Committee.

In order to better ensure that the use of radioactive material is conducted in a consistently safe manner, a semiannual inspection program will be implemented by July 31. This inspection will supplement the annual inspections and involve contamination surveillance as well as a checklist similar to the quarterly self-inspections. Inspections will be conducted by James Biter and Kathy Smith.

An annual retraining program will be implemented. This program will be centered upon practical radiation safety aspects and lessons learned from problems at other facilities as well as Virginia Tech.

In order to address the NRC's concerns that radioactive material use has outgrown the radiation safety staff, Kathy Smith has recently been hired to fill a new position in Radiation Safety. Her addition to the office will allow for a restructuring of responsibilities within the office and provide the means to meet the challenges posed by the rapid growth of the program.

All of these actions will enhance the radiation safety program and ensure that radioisotopes are used safely in our research.

The Radiation Safety Committee issued a Class II citation to the laboratory where the October incident occurred. A corrective program was agreed upon and implemented. After a moderate suspension, the laboratory is presently conducting isotope work in a safe manner.

Please contact me at 1-5364 if there are any questions or comments. Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign off this memo.

MEMORANDUM 91-03

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Recent Operational Problems MEMO 91-03

A laboratory opened and inspected an I-125 RIA package eleven days after the package was originally received by the laboratory. When the package was opened, discoloration of the Styrofoam inner container was noticed. This was due to the leakage of radioactive constituents. Fortunately, the leak did not penetrate the outer shipping carton. Similar situations could lead to contamination problems if the outer shipping container becomes contaminated. This incident demonstrates the importance of checking source container integrity within 24 hours of receipt. I have attached a copy of the package opening procedure. This procedure must be followed and any problems with packages must be reported promptly to the RSO.

Another problem occurred when a lyophilized I-125 RIA compound was reconstituted. After the solution was added through the septum, a pressure build-up caused the septum to lift during mixing. To avoid similar occurrences, a syringe needle should be left in the septum to provide a pressure relief mechanism while the mixing step is performed. Non-radioactive constituents should be reconstituted first so that any problems are apparent before the radioactive constituents are reconstituted. This entire procedure should be performed inside of an operating fume hood.

One final area of concern involves a routine thyroid scan after iodination (1-125) in which high uptake results were determined. A diagnostic nuclear medicine test had been performed on this individual several weeks before the work. The isotope administered for the diagnostic test masked the 1-125 region  our thyroid counter. This interference caused difficulty in determining if an iodine uptake had occurred during the iodination. After a series of follow-up thyroid scans, it was determined that all observable counts were associated with the nuclear medicine test. This situation illustrates the importance of restricting iodination work during nuclear medicine tests since the potential uptake of iodine may be masked by the isotope used in the diagnostic test. The RSO needs to be informed of these situations. Because of the interference potential, special thyroid scanning arrangements must be made on an individual basis.

Contact me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions or comments. Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign this memo.

Laboratory Package Opening Procedure

The procedure followed by the individual laboratories for the opening of packages usually within 24 hours is: 

  • Wear gloves to prevent hand contamination.
  • Open the package using the following precautions:
  1. Remove the packing slip.
  2. Open the outer package following the supplier 5 instructions, if provided.
  3. Open the inner package and verify that the contents agree with the packing slip.
  4. Check the integrity of the final source container. Look for broken seals or vials, loss of liquid, condensation, or discoloration of the packing material.
  5. If anything is other than expected, stop and immediately notify the Radiation Safety Office.
  6. If there is any reason to suspect contamination, wipe the external surface of the stock vial and analyze with a liquid scintillation counter. The detection efficiency must be determined to convert cpm to dpm.
  7. Monitor the packaging material and the empty packages for contamination with an appropriate survey meter or wipe test before discarding.
  8. If greater than 220 dpm, treat this material as radioactive waste.
  9. If not contaminated, remove or obliterate the radiation labels before discarding in normal trash.
  10. Record the receipt in the appropriate log.


MEMORANDUM 91-04

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Hand Contamination Due To Vinyl Glove Leakage MEMO 91-04

A recent P-32 hand contamination problem has been linked to an inferior quality of gloves. The questionable gloves are supplied by Brammer Safety Supply, Inc. (talc-free vinyl gloves, REN R-400). These gloves must not be used for radioactive applications.

A test of these gloves showed that pin-hole leaks develop in the glove fingertips. For the majority of isotope uses, latex rubber gloves provide superior protection. The selection of hand protection must also include consideration for compatibility with the chemicals that will be handled.

During this particular use of P-32, one pair of gloves was used to handle 120 uCi in solution. Whenever high activities are used, as in this case, two pairs of gloves should be worn for protection.

Please ensure that all individuals under your supervision read and sign this memo. Call me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions.

MEMORANDUM 91-5

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Hybridization Oven Contamination Problem

A contamination problem occurred recently when a hybridization oven (Robbins Scientific Model 310 Hybridization Incubator) was used to perform DNA solution hybridizations. An ineffective seal on a glass tube (38 x 300 mm) caused leakage of approximately 80% (5 uCi) of the P-32 solution. This caused significant contamination of the oven and slight contamination to surrounding areas and the floor. No personnel was contaminated during this incident. Laboratory personnel responded very quickly and effectively to prevent the spread of contamination and to clean up the contamination.

I contacted the manufacturer to report this problem and found that the tube caps have been redesigned. The existing flat gaskets can leak if the cats are tightened excessively. Proper closure should consist of finger tightening followed by 1/8 to 1/4 additional turn. If you use this equipment, the company can be contacted at 800/752-8585 (Ron O'Toole) to obtain the new caps. The new caps have an 0-ring gasket design and cannot be over-tightened.

If you use the same or similar equipment, a simple leak test should be incorporated into procedures. Tubes should be inverted for several minutes on absorbent paper, then turned upright and wiped around the cat. If the wipe shows no activity, the tube can be placed in the oven.

Contact me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions. Please incorporate these corrective actions into your procedure.

MEMORANDUM 92-01

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Defective Polypropylene Falcon Tubes

I was informed of faulty polypropylene tubes manufactured by Becton Dickinson. These tubes were 12 x 75 mm Falcon tubes, catalog no. 2053 (Fischer catalog no. 14-959-12B), lot no. 12220187. The defective tubes had either small holes or other noticeable defects in the bottom of the tube. The defects were readily visible through the unopened packages of tubes.

The laboratory had routinely used thousands of these tubes in 1-125 RIA's without any previous problems. Fortunately, this problem surfaced while the tubes were being used for non-radioactive work. Otherwise, significant contamination of a centrifuge could have occurred. I reported the defects to the manufacturer on January 16. No other. related complaints had been received by the manufacturer.

If your laboratory possesses any tubes with this specific lot number, discontinue their use immediately and contact me as soon as possible. Also, perform a visual inspection on any other tubes of similar construction. The vendor will replace defective tubes.

This problem has demonstrated the need to perform a visual inspection of any containers prior to use with isotopes. Please institute an inspection step into your normal procedures

Contact me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions. Ensure that all users under your supervision read and sign off this memo.

MEMORANDUM 92-02

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Recent NRC Inspection, MEMO 92-02

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted an inspection of the University's radioactive material license. The inspector indicated several concerns, however, a violation was issued only because of minor posting problems. The inspection involved visits to twelve laboratories the RSO waste packing room and the waste storage building. The inspection also included the review of many records maintained by the Radiation Safety Office. Corrective actions taken in response to the two previous violations were determined to be acceptable.

The current violation is related to incomplete information on the NRC Form 3, Notice To Employees. The revised form will contain references to the location of 10 CFR 19 (Instructions to Workers), 10 CFR 20 (Standards for Protection Against Radiation), and 10 CFR 21 (Reporting of Defects and Noncompliance). Radiation Safety personnel will stop by all labs within the next few weeks to update the NRC Form 3's. The second part of this violation involved the proper procedures to use when defects in equipment are discovered. The procedure for identifying and reporting defects is attached. The most important aspect is that problems get shared with all laboratories so that everyone is alerted to potential problems. Several recent examples are: defective gloves, defective container gaskets used in hybridization ovens, and defective polypropylene tubes

The inspector expressed concern that not all laboratories were converting contamination results from CPM to DPM. Results must be converted to DPM using appropriate efficiency calculations so that the values can be compared to the 220 DPM clean limit. Future RSO inspections will cite this problem as a NOC or Class I citation. The inspector was very impressed with the completeness of records maintained by Dr. Ferry's group in the Anaerobe Lab and stated that they were the best records he had ever seen.

Another concern involved the proper use of ring badges. The purpose of badges is to monitor the radiation dose received by individuals to ensure that their doses are below the regulatory limits. If badges have been prescribed by the Radiation Safety Office, they must be worn at all times that specific isotopes, such as P-32 and Cr-51, are used. During future RSO inspections, the lack of badge use when required will constitute a Class I violation.

The most serious concern was the security of radioactive material. All radioisotopes must be secured from theft whenever authorized personnel is not present. Stock solutions must be stored in locked storage areas. The minimum security must be a lock on the outside of the freezer or refrigerator used. If isotopes are in use or waste is not able to be locked up, THE LABORATORY DOOR MUST BE LOCKED WHENEVER NO AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ARE PRESENT. Additional details about the security of radioactive material will be provided in a future memo. Promptly address these security concerns and contact me to express any problem areas.

Ensure that all individuals under your supervision read and initial this memo. Contact me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions.

Identifying And Reporting Defects In Equipment Or Supplies

Defects are defined as deficiencies or failures in equipment or supplies that could create a substantial safety hazard involving radioactive material.

All employees must:

  • Identify defects in equipment or supplies used in conjunction with radioactive material work.
  • Promptly report the defects to the Radiation Safety Officer.

The Radiation Safety Officer will:

  • Evaluate the defect.
  • If determined to create a substantial safety hazard, promptly (within two days of receipt of information) inform the NRC. 
  • By telephone, facsimile, or in writing to the Director, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, USNRC, Washington, DC 20555, or to the Regional USNRC Administrator.
  • If initial notification was by telephone or facsimile, a written report (in triplicate) must be sent to NRC within 5 days of receipt of the information 
    • Identify the basic component with the defect or activity that failed to comply.
    • Include the nature of the defect or failure and the safety hazard created or that could be created by the defect or failure.
    • Identify the date the information was obtained and the name of the individual informing NRC.
    • List all locations where the basic component may be in use.
    • Describe corrective actions taken or being taken.
    • Describe the advice related to the defect that has been, or will be given to employees


MEMORANDUM 92-03

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Spin Column Contamination Incident

Purification of 200 µCi of P-32 labeled material was being done with a resin column set inside of a 1.5 ml microfuge type tube. The tube/column arrangement was sealed with parafilm and spun at 10,000 RPM. Before full speed was attained, the researcher heard a snap and shut down the centrifuge immediately. The researcher discovered that the column had disintegrated. Decontamination was attempted before the RSO was contacted and floor contamination was spread to the researcher's shoes. Fortunately, no contamination was spread from the laboratory. The lab was reopened after the areas had been cleaned by the RSO and the centrifuge had been wrapped up so that it could be held for decay.

This incident demonstrates the importance of emergency procedures and dry runs. The criteria for a major spill are more than 100 µCi or dose rates greater than 2 mR/hr at 12 inches. The amount of activity involved met the definition of a major spill and once the problem was identified, the researcher should have immediately contacted the RSO. No recovery should have been attempted by the laboratory. A major spill presents significant exposure or contamination potentials and must be handled with extreme caution.

This type of work had been done in the past without isotopes, however, the tube/column arrangement had never been covered with parafilm. :n this particular situation, the parafilm covering probably caused a differential pressure to destroy the column. The best recognized and tested method to perform spin column purification involves the same column set up, however, an outer containment tube should also be used. The slowest practical centrifuge speed should be used.

Please ensure that all individuals under your supervision read and sign this memo. Call me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions.

MEMORANDUM 93-01

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: Security of Radioactive Material

The last NRC inspector expressed concerns about the security of radioactive material in the laboratories. Radioactive material must be locked up when in storage or when in waste if knowledgeable laboratory personnel are not present. Laboratory doors must be locked if radioactive material is in use and knowledgeable laboratory personnel are not present. Two methods have been identified by the Radiation Safety Committee to lessen the burden of strict locking requirements. One method will be to require locking of only certain quantities of radioactivity. The other method will be to increase the number of knowledgeable laboratory personnel, through awareness training, that can challenge any unauthorized individuals entering the laboratory.

There will be no locking requirements if only exempt quantities of radioactivity are possessed. Exempt quantities are tabulated in Appendix A of the Radiation Safety Handbook. Values for the more commonly used isotopes are: H-3 and Cr-51 1000 µCi; C-14 and S-35 = 100 µCi; P-32 = 10 µCi; 1-125 = 1 µCi. These values apply to material in storage, material in the experiment, and material in waste. The total radioactivity’s possessed by the laboratory must be considered when determining if locking requirements will apply. Most experimental uses of S-35, P-32, and 1-125 will exceed the exempt values when stored, when used or when in waste, so locked doors offer the best solution to the usage of these isotopes.

Personnel other than those authorized to use isotopes need to be trained to become "informed and responsible" individuals. These individuals are not required to complete the formal radiation safety training but must be informed of radioisotope locations and understand their responsibility to challenge unauthorized individuals in laboratories. Unauthorized individuals are any laboratory visitors, e.g. students, staff, faculty, or salespeople, that are not authorized to use radioactive material or are not "informed" individuals. Use the attached form to generate a list that includes "informed" and "authorized" individuals for posting in the laboratory.

One additional consideration is the number of rooms used for isotope work. Laboratories that use more than one room for isotope work may want to consider consolidation within one room so that security requirements can be more easily satisfied.

Future RSO inspections will identify security deficiencies as violations if the laboratory is unlocked when no informed individuals are present and greater than exempt quantities are accessible. The additional measures discussed should make compliance easier.

Please ensure that all individuals under your supervision read and sign this memo. Call me at 540-231-5364 if there are any questions.

MEMORANDUM 94-01

TO: Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Environmental Health & Safety

SUBJECT: High Hand Dose From 32p Use

Recently, a researcher received a hand dose over 10% of the exposure limits while working with 32p Our procedures require an investigation into any doses over 10% of the limits to ensure that all doses are As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA). The investigation found that the researcher was using a 100 fold higher concentration of 32p (increased from microcuries to millicuries) in a particular set of experiments because of a greater sensitivity need. This use caused a 10-fold higher hand dose than was routinely received by the researcher.

Even though no actual overexposure occurred in this situation, some simple steps should be taken whenever the scope of an experiment changes such as in this example. A telephone conversation with the RSO can often allow a sufficient evaluation of potential concerns. Occasionally a written description of the change may be needed. Sometimes a visit by the RSO can result in suggestions to reduce the hazard potentials, such as the use of additional shielding. Significant changes in procedures must be reviewed by the Radiation Safety Committee. If there is any uncertainty as to the effect of any procedural change, it is best to call.

MEMORANDUM 96-01

TO: All Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: E. R. Stout, Radiation Safety Committee Chairman
           D.C. Smiley, Radiation Safety Officer

SUBJECT: Incidents Involving Potential Loss of Control of Radioactivity

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently issued an Information Notice concerning what appears to be two cases of intentional contamination of others. A summary of the information provided by the NRC about each ease is attached. These eases have received coverage by the Washington Post, CNN and other news media. In response to these concerns, the NRC has asked each licensed facility to review security, accountability, radiation detection capabilities, bioassay programs, food and beverage storage, and notification requirements if deliberate misuse is suspected.

Security of Radioactive Material

Our rules require that all material in excess of defined Limiting Values be secured by locked storage or locked laboratories whenever authorized personnel (including other informed and responsible individuals) are not present in the laboratory. Personnel have the responsibility to challenge individuals who are not familiar to them. Limiting values for the more commonly used radioisotopes are:

  • 3H and 14C and 51Cr and 99mTc = l,000 µCi
  • 35S and 33P and 45Ca = l00 µCi
  • 32P and 36Cl = l0µCi
  • 125I = 1 µCi

The NRC is taking the issue of security very seriously and so must we. At no time must radioactive materials be accessible to unauthorized persons. Violations of security requirements will now carry the higher disciplinary action of a Class I citation instead of a Notice of Concern.

Accountability of Radioactive Material

Our record-keeping system tracks the receipt of each order of radioactive material through its proper disposal or transfer from the University. This system relies upon accurate values for usage, transfer and waste removal from laboratories. Any suspected loss of material should be promptly reported to the Radiation Safety Office.

Radiation Detection Capabilities

All laboratories (except those that solely use 3H) should have access to properly calibrated portable survey instrumentation. These instruments are calibrated each year by the Radiation Safety Office. Prior to each use of an instrument, operability should be checked by conducting a battery test, calibration date check, and response check to either background radiation or to a known source of radiation. Any operational problems should be promptly reported to the Radiation Safety Office.

All laboratories that use unsealed sources of radioactive material should have access to properly maintained liquid scintillation or gamma counters. The manufacturer should be promptly contacted whenever operability is questionable.

Bioassay Programs

Our bioassay program requires internal dose assessments whenever it is suspected that an individual is likely to have an intake of at least 10% of the Annual Limit of Intake (ALI) specified in NRC regulations. Ten percent of the ALI for the more commonly used radioisotopes are:

  • 3H and 99mTc = 8,000µCi
  • 51Cr = 2,000µCi
  • 33P = 600µCi
  • 14C and 35S = 200µCi
  • 45Ca = 80µCi
  • 32P = 60µCi
  • 36C1 = 20µCi
  • 1251 = 4µCi

All suspected intakes should be promptly reported to the Radiation Safety Office.

Special bioassays are required when 3H is handled in quantities greater than 10 mCi per month outside of a fume hood and quantities greater than 100 mCi per month inside of a fume hood.

Special bioassays are also required when unbound 125I is handled in quantities of 0.1 mCi per

three months outside of a fume hood and quantities of 1 mCi per three months inside of a fume hood. Promptly contact the Radiation Safety Office to arrange for these bioassays.

Food and Beverage Storage

Restrictions to the consumption/storage of food/beverages in radioisotope laboratories have just been revised to provide clarification. They are:

  • All areas authorized for consumption or storage of food (including gum and smokeless tobacco) and beverages must be specifically designated by the Radiation Safety Office and clearly indicated by signs that either permit or prohibit consumption or storage. These areas must be maintained separate from all active laboratory operations.
  • No utensils, plates, cups, or any other items related to food or beverage consumption can be washed in a sink that also services laboratory operations.
  • No empty food or beverage containers or food scraps can be disposed of in trash cans that also service laboratory operations. No recyclable containers can be collected in any active laboratory area.
  • All refrigerated storage areas within laboratories must be labeled as appropriate,
    "CAUTION: RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL, NO FOOD OR BEVERAGES MAY BE STORED IN THIS UNIT" or
    "NO FOOD OR BEVERAGES MAY BE STORED IN THIS UNIT" or
    "FOOD OR BEVERAGE STORAGE ONLY" or similar words.

Notification Requirements if Suspected Deliberate Misuse

All of the control precautions that are taken are targeted at preventing accidental loss of control of radioactive material as well as preventing deliberate misuse of radioactive material. The requirements for accidental loss of control are clearly established in our Emergency Procedures which specify actions and reporting requirements. In addition to those requirements, it is imperative that the Radiation Safety Office be promptly informed of any suspected deliberate misuse of radioactive material.

The potential nature of the recent incidents makes it imperative that we emphasize the importance of proper material security, good material accountability, adequate radiation detection capabilities, appropriate bioassay programs, strict adherence to food and beverage restrictions, and notification requirements if deliberate misuse is suspected. Please ensure that all individuals under your supervision read this memo.

Contact Donald Conner, the Virginia Tech Radiation Safety Officer, by phone at 540-231-5364 or by e-mail at dcon@vt.edu if there are any questions or comments (RSO updated 1/18/18).

Radioactive Material Incidents at NIH and MIT

This past summer the National Institute of Health NIH) informed the NRC of an incident involving internal contamination of a female researcher. The researcher was in her fourth month of pregnancy at the time. The contamination was detected when the researcher's husband, who worked with her at the facility, performed a routine survey of their lab. The identity of the radioisotope was Phosphorus-32 (32P). Accidental contamination appeared unlikely because the woman had stopped working with radioisotopes in their lab

about a month before and 32P had not been used in her lab. NIH security officials and the

FBI is investigating the possibility that the woman ingested food or liquids deliberately contaminated with the radioisotope. Initial calculations estimated that the researcher ingested hundreds of microcuries of 32p Subsequent NIH surveys identified a few droplets of 32p on the floor in front of a refrigerator in a lounge adjacent to the labs the couple use. Surveys also identified an externally contaminated water cooler in the same building. Urine bioassays of other workers identified approximately 25 additional individuals with much lower levels of internal P contamination. The vendor's water bottling facility was thoroughly checked for residual contamination and none was found. The NRC obtained an agreement from NIH to improve the control of radioactive materials used in its biological and medical research programs. The NRC's investigation is still in progress and no actual cause of the contamination has been determined.

Another incident involving internal contamination of a researcher occurred a few months later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). According to MIT, a researcher discovered that he was contaminated during a routine survey of his work area. Also according to MIT, 32P contamination was subsequently detected on an item of clothing that the researcher had worn earlier in the week when he had last handled 32P in the laboratory. MIT performed urine bioassays and informed the researcher that he ingested 579 microcuries. The researcher told campus police that he believed the contamination was not accidental. The NRC and campus police are investigating his allegation. The NRC's investigation is still in progress and no actual cause of the contamination has been determined.

MEMORANDUM 97-1

TO: Selected Radioisotope Laboratory Authorities
FROM: Doug Smiley

SUBJECT: New Liquid Waste Containers

We recently purchased a number of heavy-duty Nalgene one-gallon bottles for the collection of liquid radioactive wastes. This purchase completes our standardization of liquid waste containers. The change was made so that liquid wastes can be stored in high-quality, chemically resistant containers that are leakproof.

The following Nalgene container sizes are available:

  • 1 gallon
  • 2.5 gallon
  • 5 gallon

Please do not use any other containers.

Arrange for removal of any other container types that are full, partially full or empty (we even need to take care of empties because there may be residual radioactivity in them from previous uses)

As a reminder, a number of containers are available for solid waste collection. The same containers are available for liquid scintillation vial collection, however, plastic containers cannot be used for the collection of toluene/xylene/pseudocumene liquid scintillation fluid types. The container sizes available are:

    5 gallon metal buckets, 20 gallon plastic buckets, 20 gallon plastic buckets (doubled for use with 32P), 30 gallon metal drums, 55 gallon metal drums

Swipe Survey Form

Amendment to your Authorization: Authorization to add/delete persons from lab authorization

Transfer/Receive: Transfer or Receive radioactive material on-campus

Inspection Checklist: Evaluation form used for lab inspections

Radioisotope Usage

Radioactive Material Authorization Application: Documentation to request use of radioisotopes

Radiological Hazard Analysis Program: Assessment required before beginning new procedures

Isotope ordering

Radioisotopes must be purchased through the HokieMart system. Please note the following when completing a request:

  • Use the shipping code "D423" to specify the correct (EHS) ship to address.
  • Use "Donald Conner/{insert authorized user's name here} for a contact name.
  • Phone number must be 540-231-5364.
  • Email address is "dcon@vt.edu."
  • Specify shipping via "Best Carrier-Priority Overnight" (this allows orders to be delivered to labs in the afternoon after receipt).
  • Specify account code of "13415"
  • Add an internal note with the radioisotope and activity if not already noted in the catalog line item.
  • Add an external note stating the delivery time, e.g. "Delivery xx/xx/xx AM; Please provide confirmation to dcon@vt.edu."

HokieMart orders are reviewed and approved several times each day, but be sure to allow sufficient time for the requesting department to process internally so that the order is received by Radiation Safety no later than noon the day before you need the material.

Note: Often HokieMart does not show our discounted pricing, but the correct pricing will actually be used by the vendors.

There are special exceptions to the use of HokieMart. If your department cannot process an order through HokieMart in time, you may use the Radiation Safety Online Purchasing system.

Isotope cost estimates and pricing

Please contact the Radiation Safety Office for the latest pricing information.

Links to vendor's isotope catalogs

 ARC
 Perkin Elmer Life Sciences (Formerly New England Nuclear)
 MP Biomedicals (Formerly ICN)
 Sigma
 Lofstrand Labs Limited

Related radiation/safety supplier links:

 Fisher Scientific
 Ludlum Measurements
 Radiation Service Organization (RSO, Inc)
 Research Products International

Anyone working with radioisotopes for the first time is expected to familiarize themselves with the training and program materials noted below. This is not necessary for those beginning work with x-ray systems nor those classified as ancillary in nuclear medicine protocols.

Radiation Safety Training Manual and the Radioactive Material Safety Program.

All individuals must view three videos in addition to studying the Training and Material Safety documents noted above. You should allow approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes total viewing time for the three videos.

Videos:

The Key to Contamination Control 

The Key to Contamination Monitoring/Contamination Detection 

The Key to Decontamination Procedures

Once the videos have been viewed and the training material has been studied, a 2-hour lecture and test must be attended at the Radiation Safety Office. The test is a 33-question multiple-choice test (calculators are not required) and a score of 70% must be achieved to pass. Please register for a test time through the EHS website at Class Schedule and Registration.

Lectures/tests are offered on the FIRST TUESDAY of every month. Refer to the Class Schedule and Registration (link above) section to select which time you prefer.

The successful completion of the radiation safety training does not automatically authorize you to use radioactive material. You must be added to an approved local authorization by an amendment submitted by a principal authorized user of a laboratory, or in the case of new faculty members, by the submission of an application to use radioactive material.

Note: If you have worked with radioisotopes at Virginia Tech previously, then you only need to complete the Laboratory Radiation Refresher Training to apply for authorization to work with radioactive material.

Individuals requiring accommodations should contact Donald Conner at 540-231-5364 or dcon@vt.edu at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled test.

An individual wishing to work with radioactive material without applying for Laboratory Authority status may do so through inclusion on an existing authorization. This will require the authority in question to contact the radiation safety officer to amend the personnel listing. All training requirements are the same and must be completed before beginning work.

To close out a space, you must first survey the laboratory area with both a geiger counter and swipes to ensure there are no areas of contamination. Arrange for a waste pickup of all residual radioactive material you may have. Be sure to keep any stock vials that may still be present segregated from the other waste. After you have determined the lab is 'clean' and free of all waste (or stock) material, contact the radiation safety officer in Environmental Health & Safety to schedule a confirmatory close-out survey. After that survey is completed you must remove all remaining radioactive markings, including the entrance door(s).

Arrange a waste pickup.

For questions or additional information contact dcon@vt.edu.

Determining the activity for Radioactive Waste:

  • Count an aliquot of liquid waste from each container on a Liquid Scintillation Counter
  • Convert CPM/aliquot to uCi/container

    CPM/ML / EFFICIENCY = DPM/ML;
    DPM/ML x number of ML's = DPM/container; then
    DPM/container / 2.22 x 106 DPM/uCi = uCi/container


Liquid Scintillation Vials (LSV)

  • Estimate activity from vial counts


Solid Waste (SW)

  • (Total Activity Used - LW - LSV) = SW

Correcting For Decay

AF = AO e -kt

  • A= final activity
  • AO = original activity
  • k = 0.693/half life in days
  • t = time elapsed in days

Simpler Method

AF = A/ 2x

  • AF = Final activity
  • A= Original acitivity
  • x = Number of days elapsed / half life in days

Frequently Asked Questions

Someone wishing to work with radioactive material without applying for Laboratory Authority status may do so by being included on an existing authorization. This will require the authority in question to contact the radiation safety officer to amend the personnel listing. All training requirements are the same and must be completed before beginning work.

Details for calculating activity level of waste.

To close out a space, you must first survey the laboratory area with both a geiger counter and swipes to ensure there are no areas of contamination. Arrange for a waste pickup of all residual radioactive material you may have. Be sure to keep any stock vials that may still be present segregated from the other waste. After you have determined the lab is 'clean' and free of all waste (or stock) material, contact the Radiation Safety Officer in Environmental Health & Safety to schedule a confirmatory close out survey. After that survey is completed you must remove all remaining radioactive markings, including the entrance door(s).

Arrange waste pickup

For questions or additional information contact Donald Conner, radiation safety officer.

The following videos were developed by the previous Radiation Safety Officer, Douglas Smiley, under the direction of the Learning Experience Design Group under TLOS at Virginia Tech. The intent is to use these short instructional films as supplemental training resources. If you have any questions, please contact Radiation Safety Officer Donald Conner.

Radiation Survey Meter Basics

Surveying a Radioisotope Laboratory for Contamination Control

Examples of completed contamination survey records.

Details are given in number 4 of the meter image.

In general, all laboratory waste containers (excluding desk/household receptacles) must be kept closed when not adding or removing waste. All waste containers must be labeled according to the type (biological, chemical, radiological) of waste being collected. All biohazardous waste, regardless of biosafety classification level, must be decontaminated before disposal. Refer to the individual program areas, biological wastechemicalradioactive, and regulated medical waste for specific details.

Questions? Contact 540-231-3600.

The Radiation Safety Committee must authorize all use of radioactive material. This process may take up to 3 months depending on the time of application and the next regularly scheduled committee meeting (quarterly). The following steps must be followed to apply for and obtain approval for radioisotope work.

  • A copy of the Virginia Tech Application for Use of Radioactive Material including a radiological hazards analysis and protocols must be submitted to the Radiation Safety Office for review.
  • All training requirements must be fulfilled according to details given in the Radioactive Material Safety Training program area. 
  • The applicant will be permitted to begin operations under terms of the Authorization upon receipt of a copy signed by the Radiation Safety Committee chair and the radiation safety officer.

The Health Physics Society is providing updates on a Facebook Cafe page in an effort to centralize information on the damaged plant. They also have the background and general information on their organization's main page. Links are given below.

Health-Physics-Society-News-Cafe

http://hps.org/fukushima/

This is a listing of the Principal Users in Nuclear Medicine at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg. Please refer to these individuals as directed in the Ancillary Training for questions regarding procedures, concerns, problems/emergencies, etc. The radiation safety officer, 540-231-5364, is also available for support as may be needed.

Clinicians

  • Dr. Greg Daniel
  • Dr. Kemba Clapp
  • Dr. Michelle Greer
  • Dr. Martha Larson
  • Dr. David Panciera
  • Dr. Tim Bolton
  • Dr. Stephanie DeMonaco
  • Dr. Nam Joo (Polly) Baik

Radiology staff

  • Jennifer Clifford
  • Jennifer France
  • Brittany Robertson
  • Valerie Vaught
  • Katherine Harshman

Is training mandatory? If so, when? Yes. All users of radiation sources and radioisotopes must attend this training prior to working with these materials.

Class length: 2 hours.

Available online: No.

When is refresher training required? Annually.

Upcoming classes: See the Radioactive Material Initial Training for more information.

A graphic explanation of some of the important points of a Geiger-Muller Survey Instrument. If you have any questions, please call Donald Conner, 540-231-5364.

Survey meter response should be verified for instruments in use. The Radiation Safety Office prepared check sources using small quantities of uranyl acetate to simplify this step. The material is encapsulated in heavy tape and affixed to the side of the meters with labeling. If the meter does not show response to the source and/or if you suspect the protective tape has been compromised, please contact the radiation safety officer at 540-231-5364 or 540-231-3600. 

Occasionally personal dosimeter readings have been reported that were higher than expected. Usually, the cause is related to air travel. Remember to keep dosimetry badges in carry-on items as the exposure levels from X-ray scanners are much lower for them than checked luggage.

Each laboratory or shop area using chemicals must have ready access to the appropriate supplies needed to handle a spill. Safety Data Sheets (formerly Material Safety Data Sheets) can provide details to determine which items may be necessary for the particular chemicals in your area. Refer to your Chemical List (shop areas) or review the chemicals actually in use (Standard Operating Procedures) for laboratories to determine what items are needed.

A typical lab kit might include:

  • Mercury absorb sponges
  • Sorbents appropriate for chemicals present (e.g., kitty litter, spill pads, vermiculite)
  • Neutralizers
  • Dust pan / broom (non-metal)

Generally spill cleanup materials can be purchased from most scientific and safety supply vendors. Please contact 540-231-3427 for additional information as needed.

Labs working with infectious biological material must have access to a spill kit which should contain the following:

  • PPE  appropriate for the material (e.g., gloves, Tyvek coveralls, booties, N-95 respirator, eye protection)
  • Autoclavable biohazard bags
  • Disinfectant (e.g., chlorine bleach -10,000ppm)
  • Absorbent material  such as paper towels or pads
  • Forceps or brush and dustpan to pick up sharps
  • Sharps container

These items can be purchased (like for chemical supplies) from most scientific and safety supply vendors. For questions, please call Chris Wakley, 540-231-3361.

For information regarding radiological spill supplies, please contact Donald Conner, 540-231-5364.

University personnel using hazardous materials in their research and/or teaching laboratories, or any other space where chemicals are used/stored must generate an inventory listing and update it annually. This policy resulted from negotiations with the State Fire Marshall related to chemical use and storage, and concerns raised by accidents at other universities as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The registration process has been vetted through the University Environmental Health and Safety Committee as well as the Chemical Safety and Hazardous Materials Management Committee, and the Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Registration is completed through Environmental Health & Safety's Safety Management System. For additional information, please contact Zack Adams, 540-231-5985.


Documents


Contact Information

Donald Conner, Radiation Safety Officer

Phone: 540-231-5364 
Email: dcon@vt.edu

Cynthia Strader, Assistant Radiation Safety Officer

Phone: 540-231-2699 
Email: cynth@vt.edu