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Radioactive Material Use and Contamination Surveys

Routine contamination surveys are an important part of overall radiation safety in the laboratory. EH&S's Radiation Safety group provides guidance for performing personal or area contamination surveys.

If laboratory personnel do not monitor themselves or their area periodically throughout their procedure, or following the end of use of material, then there is a chance that radioactive contamination may spread. If this contamination spreads to locations outside the authorized radiation use area (e.g. walking out the radiation laboratory with contaminated shoes), this could lead to a closure of larger areas, including entire buildings.

Laboratory personnel should practice these safety measures:

  • Use appropriate radiation detection equipment that is in calibration and is functioning properly.
  • Have the detector close by (e.g. within arm's reach) when working with the material.
  • Double-gloving is recommended - if contamination is found on the outer gloves, dispose of these in radioactive waste, and survey the inner gloves. If no contamination is found, don new outer gloves and continue work.
  • Survey yourself and your area during your process frequently (e.g. after handling radioactive material or every 15 minutes), and at the end of process before leaving the area. If you find contamination on yourself or your area, do not leave the area. Follow the instructions found in the Radioactive Material Contamination Response Checklist.

Remember that you must always perform radiation surveys when working with radioactive material. Radiation Safety will also perform radiation surveys of your area; however, surveys performed by Radiation Safety are intended to verify that the lab is not contaminated and that laboratory personnel are performing their surveys correctly.

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Last Updated: 4/13/21