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Radioactive Material Incidents

Most research laboratories do not have the types or quantities of radioactive materials that would pose a significant health risk even if they were to be spilled. However, if radioactive material is spilled, the top priority becomes the control and/or removal of contamination.

Do not hesitate to call the Radiation Protection Division (RPD) in the event of a spill. The RPD is here to assist you with controlling contamination and cleaning up spills. Be assured that there will not be any negative consequences for reporting a spill - no one's job, appointment or position will be jeopardized due to reporting a spill or incident involving radioactive materials.

To maintain the health and safety of all University staff and students and to remain compliant with state and federal regulations for exposure to ionizing radiation and contamination control levels, the RPD must be involved in certain spills or potential personnel contamination incidents. These incidents include contamination of an individual's skin or clothes (including shoes), the ingestion, absorption or inhalation of radioactive materials, or the contamination of work surfaces outside the immediate workstation (including bench tops, fume hood surfaces, lab equipment or furniture, and any floor contamination). If you suspect that any of these incidents may have occurred, please do not hesitate to call the RPD.

What to do in an incident involving radiation:

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Announce it:  Let everyone in the immediate area know that you have an incident involving radioactive material. Though it may be a little embarrassing to draw attention to the situation, it will help prevent anyone from walking into a potentially contaminated area.
  3. Survey yourself for contamination:  Wash any exposed skin and remove articles of clothing that have become contaminated and place them on an absorbent pad or in a bag to reduce the spread of contamination.
  4. Restrict access:  If the floor is contaminated, or is suspected to be, restrict access to the area and don't let anyone that may have become contaminated leave until the RPD can survey them. The number one contributor to the spread of contamination is via individuals who have left a contaminated site.
  5. Call the RPD:  612-626-6002, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., or 911 after hours, weekends and on University holidays.