Radioactive Material Spills

Spills of radioactive materials are classified into two categories, Major Spills and Minor Spills, based on the amount of material spilled.

  1. Consult the nuclide chart below and determine which Group the spilled radionuclide belongs to.
  2. Estimate the amount of radioactivity, in millicuries, that has been spilled.
  3. Look at the criteria for Major Spills and Minor Spills below to decide which set of procedures you should follow.


Group 1
ALI > 10 mCi
Group 2
1 mCi < ALI < 10 mCi
Group 3
0.1 mCi < ALI < 1 mCi
Group 4
.01 mCi < ALI < 0.1 mCi
H-3
F-18
Cr-51
Cu-64m
Tc-99m
In-113m
C-14 Mn-54 Mo-99
Na-24 Fe-55 In-111
P-33 Co-57 I-123
S-35 Co-58 Hg-197
K-42 Ga-67 Au-198
Ca-45 Hg-203(inorganic)
Na-22 Sr-89
P-32 Cd-109
Cl-36 Ag-110m
Ca-47 Cd-115m
Fe-59 Ir-192
Zn-65 Hg-203(organic)
Sr-90
I-125
I-131
(ALI = Annual Limit on Intake)

Major Spills

Criteria: Group 1 > 10 mCi ; Group 2 > 1 mCi ; Group 3 > 0.1 mCi : Group 4 > 0.01 mCi

Actions to take:

  1. CLEAR THE AREA. Notify all persons not involved in the spill to vacate the room.
  2. PREVENT THE SPREAD. Cover the spill with absorbent pads or diatomaceous earth, but do not attempt to clean it up. Confine the movement of all personnel potentially contaminated to prevent the spread.
  3. SHIELD THE SOURCE. If necessary, the spill should be shielded, but only if it can be done without further contamination or without increasing or significantly increasing your radiation exposure.
  4. CLOSE THE ROOM. Leave the room and lock the door(s) to prevent entry.
  5. CALL FOR HELP. Notify the Radiation Safety Officer immediately at 206.543.0463 or 206.543.6328.

Minor Spills

Criteria: Spills less than major spill quantities

Actions to take:

  1. NOTIFY. Notify persons in the area that a spill has occurred.
  2. PREVENT THE SPREAD. Cover the spill with absorbent paper or spread diatomaceous earth.
  3. CLEAN UP. Use disposal gloves and remote handling tongs. Carefully fold the absorbent paper and pad. Scoop up any absorbent diatomaceous earth with cardboard. Insert it into a plastic bag and dispose of it in the radioactive waste container. Also insert into the plastic bag all other contaminated materials such as disposable gloves.
  4. SURVEY. With a low-range, thin-window GM Survey meter, check the area around the spill, hands, and clothing for contamination. Survey H-3 and C-14 spills with wipes counted in a Liquid Scintillation Counter.
  5. REPORT. Report the incident to the Radiation Safety Officer at 206.543.0463 or 206.543.6328.
  6. PERSONNEL DECONTAMINATION. Contaminated clothing should be removed and stored for further evaluation by the Radiation Safety Officer. If the spill is on the skin, flush thoroughly and then wash with mild soap and lukewarm water.