Emergency Procedures for Spills of Radioactive Materials

Call the Radiation Safety Officer if any of the following is true:

  • Contamination on skin or clothing.
  • Activity of the spill is greater than 10μCi.
  • The spill is outside of the immediate work area.
  • The spill covers a large area or volume.
  1. Use SWIMS!
    • S – Stop the spill and stop what you’re doing (stop your research). Cover the spill with absorbent paper (dampened if spilled material is solid).
    • W – Warn others in the area. They may not be contaminated and need to know.
    • I  – Isolate the area so others don’t get contaminated. Use rad tape or ribbon if possible.
    • M – Monitor for skin contamination and clothing contamination. Change gloves often.
    • S – Survey and cleanup the contaminated area. Do not forget your dosimeter or the proper protection equipment: gloves, laboratory coat, eye protection, and booties (shoe coverings) before attempting to clean the spill. Mark the perimeter of the spill and isolated spots. Thoroughly clean by wiping the contamination with absorbent paper (preferably with Radiacwash or Count-off) working from the perimeter towards the center of the spill.
  2. REMEMBER, used radioactive absorbent paper must be disposed of in the respective radioisotopes’ waste container (i.e. 32P waste goes in 32P container, etc). Carefully fold the absorbent paper with the clean side out and place in a plastic bag for transfer to the proper waste container. Put contaminated gloves and any other contaminated disposable material in the bag.
  3. Once finished with the decontamination, survey the area to make sure that it is reading background levels. Perform an extensive personnel survey. Take your time in surveying the hands, shoes, laboratory coat, pants, and face.
  4. Do not allow personnel to return to work until area is cleared by the RSO.

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