You are here

Radiation Spill

Take appropriate action for additional hazards (chemicals), when initiating a spill cleanup; although the radioactive component may be considered minor, the chemical hazard may require additional ESSR support. REMEMBER: life-safety takes precedence over radioactive material spills. For example, obtaining medical support and evacuating buildings for fires are a priority over all minor and major spill actions.

Personal Exposure

Radioactive Material Spill in Eye or on Skin or Clothing

  • Remove contaminated clothing and put in plastic bag. Seal and label bag.
  • Begin decontamination of exposed skin. Use eyewash for eye exposure. Contact the Radiation Safety Officer at 301.405.3960.
  • Report incident to supervisor.
  • Obtain medical attention at University Health Center or other local medical facilities listed on the Personal Injury page.

Exposure to X-Ray Beams

  • Shut off machine. Do Not alter machine configuration until Radiation Safety Officer inspection.
  • Obtain medical attention at the University Health Center or other local medical facilities listed below.
  • Report incident to supervisor and Radiation Safety Officer.

Minor Radiation Spill

Definition

Occurs within a posted radioactive material lab
Localized to a small area in the lab (bench top)
No personnel skin or clothing contamination
Involves low quantity of radioactivity (less than 500 uCi)
Involves no powders or no volatile/airborne radioactive material

  • Notify personnel in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Confine the spill by placing absorbent paper towels over the spill.
  • Have all potentially contaminated personnel stay in one area until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.
  • Authorized radioactive material users may perform minor spill cleanup; supervised radioactive material users can conduct minor spill cleanup under direct supervision of the Principal Investigator or another authorized user.
  • Absorb the spill liquid and decontaminate surfaces using standard cleaning agents. Dispose of all cleaning materials in radioactive waste containers.
  • Monitor surfaces with an appropriate survey meter. Conduct a wipe test to evaluate removable contamination levels. Repeat decontamination until no contamination remains above background with a survey meter and wipe tests indicate removable contamination is less than the action levels. Contact the Radiation Safety Officer if contamination remains post-decontamination efforts.
  • When decontamination is complete, monitor all personnel involved (hands and shoes) to ensure no contamination.
  • All minor spills must be reported to the Radiation Safety Officer on the day it occurs. To report minor spills or to request support in decontamination, contact the Radiation Safety Officer at 301.314.2000.*

*Note: ESSR staff are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During regular business hours, this number will be answered by ESSR. After
regular business hours, it will be answered by the University of Maryland Police Department, who will contact appropriate
ESSR on-call personnel.

Major Radiation Spill

Definition

Occurs outside of a posted radioactive material lab
Involves a large area within a posted radioactive material lab
Involves personnel contamination (skin or clothes)
Involves greater than 500 uCi of radioactive material
Involves powders or volatile/airborne radioactive material

  • Notify personnel in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Secure and isolate the spill area to prohibit access and prevent spreading contamination. If safe to do so, confine or stop the spill with absorbent material.
  • Call 9-1-1 or 301.405.3333.
  • Have all personnel present move to a safe location away from the spill area and remain in the area until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.
  • If skin or clothing contamination is known, remove contaminated clothing as quickly as practical and begin decontamination of skin using mild soap and warm water. If possible to do so, record the initial radiation levels on the skin using a survey meter; however, do not delay decontamination efforts.
  • Follow the instructions of the Radiation Safety Officer. Do not re-enter the area until the Radiation Safety Officer gives approval.
  • Have personnel knowledgeable of the incident remain in the area to provide support and assistance to Radiation Safety and other emergency response personnel.

 

Laboratory Specific Information

Location of Radioactive Material Spill Supplies: