Radioactive Material Spill Procedures

Procedure in the Event of a Spill

In normal radioisotope laboratory operations, spills of radioactive material will be the most common form of emergency situation. In the event of any spill of radioactive material, it is important that the correct steps be taken promptly to avoid the spread of contamination.

The most important immediate action is to prevent the spread of the material, provided that it can be accomplished without creating any additional hazard.

Basic Emergency Procedure

  1. Injuries first:  First aid to the injured person takes precedence over the spill cleaning.
  2. Alert everyone in the area:  Mark the area and post a sign if necessary.
  3. Confine the spill:  Take action to prevent the spread of the material.
  4. Clear the area:  Remove all personnel from the vicinity of the spilled material.
  5. Decontaminate:  Decontamination procedures must follow this order: personnel, laboratory, and equipment.
  6. While wearing protective clothing and disposable gloves, clean up the spill using absorbent paper and place it in the waste container.
  7. Avoid spread of contamination:  Work from the outside of the spill towards the centre.
  8. Wipe test or survey for residual contamination as appropriate:  Repeat decontamination, if necessary, until contamination monitoring results indicate under 0.5 Bq/cm2
  9. Check hands, clothing and shoes for contamination.
  10. Report the spill and clean-up to the Permit Holder.
  11. Record spill details and contamination monitoring results: Adjust inventory and waste records appropriately.

Radioactive spill kit

The following items must be available in all radioactive laboratories:

Item Purpose
chalk, marker, tape mark spill area
paper towels containment and absorption
box for sharps broken glass, needles
tongs / forceps safe handling
decontamination solution washing, decontamination
scouring powder, scrub brush aggressive decontamination

Notification in the Event of a Spill

Radiation Safety must be notified in the event of a spill involving any one or more of the following situations:

  • Contamination of personnel with more than 1 EQ (for EQ values please see: EQ, ALI, radioisotopes lab levels)
  • A spill of more than 100 EQ on a bench, floor, etc.
  • Injury of a person working with radioactive materials.
  • A spill in which an alpha emitter or volatile material (like free I-125) is involved.
  • If contamination monitoring indicates a spill of more than 3 Bq/cm2
  • If there is any doubt regarding correct procedure or decontamination is ineffective.
  • When inaccessible areas are suspected to be contaminated.

Radiation Safety may be contacted for advice in the event of a spill of any quantity of material.

In case of emergency involving radioactive material

Weekdays, 8 am to 5 pm: Radiation Safety 416.978.2028

After hours, nights, weekends and holidays: Campus Police:

St. George Campus 416.978.2222
Scarborough Campus 416.287.7333
Mississauga Campus 905.828.5200