Campuses: Twin Cities | Crookston | Duluth | Morris | Rochester | Other Locations


Home > Radiation Protection > Radioactive Waste Manual > Radioactive Waste Management in the Lab

Radioactive Waste Management in the Lab

Radioactive Waste Management in the Lab
Radioactive waste requires the same security considerations given to other radioactive materials. The Permit Holder is responsible for the safe, secure, and proper storage of radioactive waste generated until removed by the Radiation Protection Division (RPD). To achieve these responsibilities, it is required that this storage be done within a secured, posted radioactive materials lab. Investigators are reminded that the volume of radioactive waste generated must be kept to a minimum, and items that are known not to be contaminated with radioactive material should not be placed into a radioactive waste container. It is important to have long half-life and short half-life radioactive waste containers stored in separate locations within a lab to prevent mixing of long and short half-life radioactive wastes.

  1. Solid Radioactive Waste Disposal (S)

    Solid radioactive waste is segregated and disposed of into two waste forms.
    1. Solid long half-life waste (>90 day half-life) is disposed of into appropriate and properly labeled 30 gallon metal waste containers.
    2. Solid short half-life waste (<90 day half-life) is disposed of into appropriate and properly labeled 20 gallon fiber waste containers.
    3. If long half-life radioisotopes cannot be separated from short half-life radioisotopes then the waste must always be disposed of into the long half-life waste container.
    4. Do not dispose of the following into any solid dry waste container:
      1. Animals, parts of animals, or tissue samples.
      2. Liquid scintillation vials
      3. Stock vials
      4. Sharps
      5. Any amount of liquid.
      6. Lead (This item is collected separately. Contact RPD for pick-up. 625-1682)
      7. Solid radioactive biohazardous waste, this must be autoclaved prior to disposal.
    5. Gels, If a gel is very solid at room temperature, it may be disposed of as solid waste. If it is soft or semi-solid at room temperature, use a non-hazardous solubilizer to liquefy it and dispose of it as liquid waste. 

      Note: If you have any doubts of what should or should not be placed into a solid dry radioactive waste container contact RPD at 625-1682.

Top of Page

  1. Liquid Radioactive Waste Aqueous and Flammable Disposal (LA or LF)

    All liquid radioactive waste generated must be collected in an appropriate and properly labeled 10 liter waste container provided through the RPD. Do not fill these containers above a level 4 inches from the top of the container (~8 liters). Typically these wastes contain no EPA listed hazardous materials and have a pH equal to 7-9. Wastes with a pH outside this range must be neutralized as part of the experimental protocol prior to disposal. Radioactive waste must not be poured or flushed down laboratory drains.
    1. Disposal procedure for Water Soluble non-hazardous radioactive liquids:
      1. Segregate long half-life radioisotopes (>90 days) rom short half-life radioisotopes (<90 days).
        1. Segregate H-3 and C-14 from all other long half-life radioisotopes and dispose of into separate waste containers.
        2. Segregate all short half-life beta and gamma emitters from each other and dispose of into separate waste containers.
        3. Segregate I-125 from all other short half-life gamma emitting radioisotopes and dispose of into a separate container.
      2. Place contaminated waste items into the appropriate liquid waste container.
      3. When the liquid waste container is full, log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet”. Attach the container’s UMNT waste card to the outside of the container.
      4. Care should be taken when pouring liquids into the liquid waste container to avoid spilling around the outside of the bottle. If spillage occurs, the waste container will not be picked up from the laboratory until it has been satisfactorily decontaminated.
      5. Liquid radioactive waste containers must not be filled above a level four inches from the top of the container (~8 liters). Containers filled to the top will not be removed from the lab, instead the user will be instructed to correct the overfilling.
      6. DO NOT mix any hazardous "mixed wastes" with aqueous wastes.
      7. GELS, if it is soft or semi-solid at room temperature, use a non-hazardous solubilizer to liquefy it and dispose of it as liquid waste. If a gel is very solid at room temperature, dispose of it as a solid waste.
      8. No paper, plastics, pipette tips, animal tissue or other solids are to be placed in liquid containers.
      9. Acids and bases are to be neutralized before disposal pH 7-9). Use pH paper to determine pH. Instructions for neutralization can be obtained from the Chemical Waste Specialist at 624-6870. All neutralization procedures should be conducted in a hood.
      10. If the waste contains a component that may biologically decompose, (i.e., blood, urine), the waste must be chemically treated to prevent odor and clotting. If the waste contains a biohazardous agent (pathogen), the agent must be inactivated prior to disposal.
      11. Do not mix bleach with radioiodine wastes, strong acids, or ammonia.
      12. Improper selection of a deactivation agent could result in a volatile radioactive release. Use a Phenol solution for radioiodine (see instructions on bottle for use) and a 15% bleach solution for all other radioisotopes. Call the RPD at 625-1682 for detailed instructions.
      13. If bleach was added to your liquid waste for deactivation you will be required to neutralize the liquid to a pH of 7-9. Contact our Chemical Waste Specialist at 624-6870 for specific neutralization procedures.
      14. All liquid radioiodine waste (excluding waste from RIA test kits) must be collected in a separate liquid radioactive waste container that is labeled "Radioiodine Waste Only." This is to prevent possible reactions that may release volatile radioiodine. To minimize potential volatilization of liquid radioiodine, add 50ml dry, granular sodium thiosulfate to liquid radioiodine containers prior to use.

Note: Anytime there is a liquid or solid spill outside of a waste container perform a smear survey of containers and the immediate area and notify RPD at (626-6002) if contamination is found > 250 dpm/smear.
Top of Page

    1. Disposal of chemically hazardous radioactive liquid wastes (Mixed Wastes).

In general chemically hazardous wastes or "Mixed Wastes" are defined as any waste which contains a radioactive material in combination with an EPA and/or MPCA regulated hazardous chemical waste. See Tables II and III for a list of commonly used chemicals.
http://www.dehs.umn.edu/images/image22.gif

      1. Segregate long half-life radioisotopes (>90 days) from short half-life radioisotopes (<90 days).
        1. Segregate H-3 and C-14 from all other long half-life radioisotopes and dispose of into separate waste containers.
        2. Segregate all short half-life beta and gamma emitters from each other and dispose of into separate waste containers.
        3. Segregate I-125 from all other short half-life gamma emitting radioisotopes and dispose of into a separate container.
      2. Place contaminated waste items into the appropriate waste container.
        1. Do not combine or add mixed wastes to a radioactive waste that contains no EPA and/or MPCA regulated hazardous chemicals.
        2. Minimize volume of mixed waste generated by using a separate liquid radioactive waste container.
      3. No acids, bases or solids are to be placed with flammable liquids.
      4. No paper, plastics, or animal tissues are to be placed in the liquid containers.
      5. The laboratory director is responsible for assuring that a non-hazardous substitute is used if feasible, or for minimizing the volume of mixed waste generated. 

        For complete information on minimization of mixed waste, see section 7.C.1 of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals and tables II and III.
      6. If liquid radioiodine waste is combined with hazardous chemicals this mixed waste must be collected in a separate radioactive waste container that is labeled "RADIOIODINE WASTE ONLY." This is to prevent possible reactions that may release volatile radioiodine and to allow for storage and decay of radioiodine wastes. To minimize potential volatilization of liquid radioiodine, add 50ml dry, granular sodiumthiosulfate to liquid radioiodine containers prior to use.
      7. Care should be taken when pouring liquids into the liquid waste container to avoid spilling around the outside of the bottle. If spillage occurs, the waste container will not be picked up from the laboratory until it has been satisfactorily decontaminated.
      8. Liquid radioactive waste containers must not be filled above a level four inches from the top of the container (~8 liters). Containers filled to the top will not be removed from the laboratory. Instead, the approved user's laboratory personnel will be instructed to correct the overfilling. .
      9. For all "mixed waste," complete a Hazardous Waste Manifest. Attach the pink copy to the container prior to requesting pickup and route the remaining copies to the Chemical Waste Program. For specific details on the completion of the Hazardous Waste Manifest see the U of M Hazardous Waste Guide Book.
      10. When the liquid waste container is full, log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet”. Remember to attach the container’s UMNT waste card to the outside of the container.
      11. Note: Anytime there is a liquid or solid spill outside of a waste container perform a smear survey of containers and the immediate area and notify RPD at (626-6002) if contamination is found > 250 dpm/smear.

Top of Page

  1. Stock Vial Waste (SV)

    Stock vials must be segregated into short half-life (<90day) and long half-life (>90day) waste streams and disposed into separate waste containers. When disposing of a stock vial, put it back into its original shipping container (sometimes known as a pig) and place it into a cardboard box.  Tape the box shut and attach all of the stock vial’s container UMNT waste cards to the outside of the box. Finally, log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet”.
  1. Animal Waste (A)
    1. Segregate all long half-life animal waste from all short half-life animal waste and dispose of onto separate containers.
    2. Segregate >0.05m Ci/g H3 and/or C14 animal waste from <0.05m Ci/g H3 and/or C14 animal waste and dispose of into separate containers.
    3. Animal waste consists of whole body, body parts, organs, blood and tissue samples.
    4. All animal waste shall be bagged and completely frozen prior to pickup.
    5. For animals >10 lbs. Radiation Protection will provide fiber containers for disposal. Occasionally with animals over 50 lbs. you will be required to section the animal so it will fit completely into the fiber waste container.
    6. Researchers that have to section an animal are required to drain and collect all blood and verify that the blood is not contaminated with radioactivity prior to disposal. If you have any questions contact RPD at 625-1682.
    7. When the animal waste container is full, log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet”. Attach the container’s UMNT waste card to the outside of the waste box.

 

  1. Scintillation Waste (SW)

    All labs at one time or another will use a scintillation counter to either count a sample or lab smears. To avoid generation of a mixed waste RPD recommends that you use an environmentally safe/biodegradable scintillation cocktail. The University Stores catalog and Appendix F of the Radiation Protection Manual contain several types of biodegradable, nonhazardous scintillation cocktails for you to choose from. 

    http://www.dehs.umn.edu/images/image25.gif

    All scintillation waste must be segregated into biodegradable and solvent based scintillation fluid waste streams and disposed of separately.
    1. Biodegradable, nonhazardous scintillation waste
      1. All vials generated must be collected in a scintillation waste bucket provided by RPD. If a bucket is not available, vials may be packed in the original shipping box.
      2. Do not pour scintillation waste into a radioactive liquid waste container.
      3. When the bucket is full, log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet” attach a container’s UMNT waste card to the bucket.
    2. Hazardous (solvent based) scintillation waste
      1. Collect all solvent based scintillation waste in the original trays and shipping box.
      2. Do not mix with non-hazardous/biodegradable scintillation waste.
      3. When the bucket is full, complete a Hazardous Waste Manifest and attach the pink copy to waste container. Route all other copies to the Chemical Waste Program.
      4. Log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet”. Attach the container’s UMNT waste card to the outside of the waste box.

Top of Page

  1. Sharps Waste (SHRP)

    Sharps means: discarded items that can induce subdermal inoculation of infectious agents, including needles, scalpel blades, Pasteur pipettes, broken glass and other sharp items derived from human or animal patient care, laboratories and research facilities. Disposal procedure:
    1. All sharps are required to be disposed of into a puncture resistant sharps disposal container available from the University Stores catalog.
    2. Label all radioactive sharps containers with "Caution Radioactive Material" tape to avoid mixing with non-radioactive sharps.
    3. Do not over fill sharps containers.
    4. Disposal containers must be shut (i.e. capped or tapped) prior to being collected and transported.
    5. Do not place sharps containers inside of a solid radioactive waste container.
    6. When the sharps container is full, log into IsoTrack to set up a waste pick-up, navigate to the “Waste” tab, select and complete the “Create Radioactive Waste Pick-up Worksheet” attach a container’s UMNT waste card to the bucket.
  1. Biohazardous/Radioactive Waste
    1. Biohazardous radioactive waste is waste cultures that contain human blood/plasma, or biohazardous pathogenic/infectious agents that are generated from a laboratory and are infectious to humans. Examples of these are:
      1. Discarded contaminated items used to inoculate, transfer, or otherwise manipulate biohazardous cultures or stocks of agents that are infectious to humans.
      2. Waste from the production of biological agents that are infectious to humans.
      3. Discarded live or attenuated vaccines that are infectious to humans.
      4. Waste that originated from clinical or research laboratory procedures involving communicable infectious agents unless such waste has been properly inactivated by an approved process (e.g. autoclaving) authorized by the Biosafety Officer of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
    2. Biohazardous/Radioactive Waste Disposal procedures:
      1. All biohazardous/radioactive waste is required to be disposed into authorized (clear) autoclave bags, which are available in the University Stores catalog.
      2. Do not use orange or red (non-clear) Biohazard bags.
      3. All biohazardous/radioactive waste must be inactivated by a process (autoclave or chemical inactivation) approved by the University Biosafety Officer.
      4. Prior to autoclaving your waste you will be required to place a piece of autoclave tape on the waste bag to show that the waste has been autoclaved.
      5. Once inactivation has been completed place the autoclave bag into the appropriate solid or liquid radioactive waste container and follow the appropriate steps for isotope segregation for those waste forms.

If you have any questions regarding the disposal of Biohazardous/Radioactive waste contact the University Biosafety Officer at 626-5621.

Top of Page