Radioactive Waste Management

EH&S’s Radioactive Waste Management Program provides training, consultation and resources to ensure safe and compliant storage, packaging, labeling, collection, sampling and disposal of radioactive waste.

EH&S’s Radioactive Waste Management Program oversees radioactive material use and disposal under the requirements set by federal and state rules and regulations, and the UW Radioactive Materials License issued by the State of Washington Department of Health.

Radioactive waste generators are required to:

  • Segregate waste streams by radioisotope and physical form
  • Minimize the volume and activity of radioactive waste
  • Properly package and label waste
  • Submit Radioactive Waste Collection Requests online

These efforts help provide a safe working environment, reduce the volume of waste generated and decrease disposal costs. Current disposal rates can be found here.

Radioactive waste streams

All radioactive waste streams are classified as either short lived (half-life <120 days) or long lived (half-life >120 days).

Radioactive waste handling precaution

  • Maintain lab-specific procedures for waste accumulation and disposal, and train lab personnel.
  • Properly package and label all radioactive waste. Specific packaging instructions are available on Focus Sheets for each waste stream. Use thicker plastic bags and don’t fill the waste bag to its capacity. This will reduce the possibility of spills or other incidents.
  • Keep a log of activity and the date when the waste is deposited into the container.
  • Use smaller bench top waste receptacles to reduce the amount of waste per disposal.
  • Minimize radiation exposure during storage in the lab by using a Lucite shielded container for high-energy beta emitting waste and a lead shielded container for photon (x and gamma ray) emitting waste.
  • Minimize exposure to lab personnel by placing waste containers as far away from personnel as practical.

Services available

EH&S provides the following services:

  • Consultation - EH&S’s Radiation Safety team is happy to talk with you before you generate radioactive waste. We can evaluate the work you will be performing to determine which waste streams you will be producing. We can also provide an estimate of the cost for disposal of those waste streams, and if given enough time we may be able to find different disposal options that can save you money.

  • Waste Pick-up - Submit an online Radioactive Waste Pickup Request.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

All waste pickup requests must be submitted online.

Please see the Focus Sheets in the Reference Files section of this page that describe each waste stream and how to properly segregate, store, package and label waste containers.

Short lived waste must be held for decay for a minimum 10 half-lives. See the Short Lived Radioactive Dry Waste Focus Sheet for more information.

Lucite, Plexiglas or plastic shielding should be used for beta emitters and lead shielding should be used for photon (x and gamma ray) emitters.

Contact EH&S’s Radiation Safety team via email to request a surplus equipment survey.

Contact EH&S’s Radiation Safety team and request assistance via email.

Radioactive waste disposal costs vary and are dependent on the waste stream. Simple experimental changes can minimize waste generated and reduce disposal costs. Please Contact EH&S’s Radiation Safety team to schedule an estimation of disposal costs and consultation on methods you can use to minimize the radioactive waste you generate.

More Information


Michael Zittle

(206) 616-8901