Emergency Response Procedure For Radioactive Material Spill

In the event of a spill of radioactive material, an important consideration is to prevent the spread of the material. All spills of radioactive material must be cleaned up immediately.

When a spill of radioactive material occurs, the following steps must be taken:

1. Injuries first

  • First aid to the injured persons takes precedence over the spill cleaning. When emergency personnel arrives advise them about radioactive materials involved.

2. Alert Everyone in the Area

  • Ensure that everyone in the immediate vicinity of the accident has been alerted. Mark the area and post a sign if necessary to prevent anyone from walking on the spilled material.

3. Confine the Spill

  • Take action to prevent the spread of the material. If the material is dry, lightly dampen it. If it is wet, cover with dry absorbent.

4. Clear the Area

  • Remove all persons from the vicinity of the spilled material. Minimize movement in the area.

5. Decontaminate

  • Apply decontamination procedures in this order: personnel, laboratory, equipment

6. Summon Aid

  • If there is any doubt about cleaning up the spill, contact the Radiation Protection Service.
    • During normal working hours: 416.978.2028
    • Nights & Weekends:
      • St. George Campus 416.978.2222
      • University of Toronto at Mississauga 905.569-4333
      • University of Toronto at Scarborough 416.978-2222
  • State:
    • your name
    • phone number
    • location (building & room)
    • that the accident involves radioactive material
    • if there are any injuries
  • Wait for assistance to arrive.


Radioactive material is used extensively at the University of Toronto, primarily for biomedical research. The use of radioactive material is an important and valuable tool in research. Such research could be interrupted or stopped completely without the use of radioactive materials.

The University of Toronto endeavours to ensure that the use of radioactive materials at the University is carried out in a safe manner with due regard for employees, students, the public and the environment. The University of Toronto Ionizing Radiation Protection Authority (UTIRPA) is charged with ensuring an effective radiation safety program.

Through the Radiation Protection Service (RPS, 416.978.2028) the UTIRPA controls all purchases of radioactive material as well as governing the conditions under which it will be used. The Environmental Protection Service (EPS, 416.978.7000) carries out a comprehensive radioactive waste disposal program to ensure that all wastes are properly managed.

For all matters associated with the licence:

  • the Manager, Radiation Protection Service, is the primary contact person for the University
  • the Chairperson of the UTIRPA is the signing authority for the University
  • the Vice-President, Human Resources and Administration, is the University corporate officer responsible for identifying the signing authority of the Chairperson.


The ALARA principle seeks to keep all doses of radiation as low as reasonably possible, social and economic factors taken into consideration. No practice involving the exposure to ionizing radiation may take place if there is no benefit as a result of carrying out the practice. Radiation exposures must be kept below the statutory federal limit regardless of the practice. Persons using radioactive material must endeavour to keep all radiation exposures as low as possible.

The ALARA concept has been adopted by the UTIRPA as the basic philosophy governing the use of radioactive materials at the University.

It is the responsibility of all persons who work with radioactive material to become familiar with the information presented in this manual.