• Responding to Radioactive Spills in labs Flow Chart
  • Laboratory Contamination Flow chart

The North Carolina State University Emergency Response Plan provides a clearly defined protocol and corresponding support mechanism to protect NCSU personnel and property in emergency situations.  The scope of this plan is to define emergency situations, specific preventive and response procedures to avoid and cope with emergencies in a safe, orderly and efficient manner, protecting the personnel and facilities at NCSU.  Emergency situations include any circumstances that threaten NCSU personnel and/or property.

Minor Spills of Radioactive  Materials
(microcurie amounts)

    If the spill occurs:

    • During working hours – call Radiation Safety 515-2894 or 911
    • After working hours – call Campus Police 911, who will notify the Radiation Safety of the spill.

      The following information will be needed:

      1. Laboratory location of the spill
      2. Identity of the caller
      3. Extent of personnel injuries
      4. Radionuclide involved
      5. Amount of radioactive material involved (in mCi or mCi)
      6. The chemical or physical form.

Attend to the spill as soon as possible.  Cover the area to prevent tracking or contamination to other areas.
Use appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, laboratory jacket, etc.).
Once the affected area has been blotted dry, scrub the contaminated area with soap and water.  Continue this process until the contamination is less than 500 dpm/100 cm2 of the removable contamination.  If the contaminated area cannot be reduced to these levels, the area should be covered with an impervious material (e.g. diaper paper) to prevent further contamination.  If the spill produces radiation fields exceeding 2 mrem hr at one foot from the source, appropriate shielding material should be placed on the area.  If shielding is not feasible, access to the spill zone should be restricted.  All areas of non-removable contamination should be labeled with cautionary information, and personnel in the area should be notified.  The Radiation Safety staff are available to supervise personnel concerning decontamination of surfaces, appropriate shielding, and restriction of access.
In the case of contaminated wounds, rinse with running water and soap.  (Do not scrub contaminated skin).  Cover with sterile dressing and seek medical attention at once.

Major Spills of Radioactive Materials or Radiation Emergencies
(millicurie amounts)

Radiation emergencies, as is applicable for NCSU, are incidents which involve actual or suspected exposure to uncontrolled sources of radioactivity that cause or threaten to cause an external dose in excess of five (5) rem to the whole body, or gross radioactive personnel contamination resulting in ingestion, inhalation, injection, or skin absorption of radioactive material leading to comparable risk.

Call Campus Police at 911

    1. .
Provide the following information to Campus Police:
  • Laboratory location of the spill or emergency;
  • Identity of the caller;
  • Extent of personnel injuries;
  • Radionuclide involved;
  • Amount of radioactive material involved (in mCi or mCi); and
  • The chemical or physical form.
  • Life-saving or first aid measures should take precedence over radiation hazards and decontamination efforts.  Proper PPE use is mandatory.
  • Stand clear of a contaminated area by posting the area or closing off the lab until assistance arrives.  Radiation Safety will perform clean-up, decontamination and surveys of the area.

Laboratory Fires Involving Radioactive Materials

In the event of a laboratory fire involving radioactive materials, the fire is the first priority.  The following procedure is recommended:

    1. If the fire is not controllable with an extinguisher, evacuate the laboratory immediately, close the lab doors, activate the nearest pull station and

report the fire by calling 911

    1. .  The following information should be given:
  1. Identify yourself and phone number;
  2. Exact location of fire (building, laboratory number of the specific area);
  3. Extent of personnel injuries;
  4. Type of fire (electrical, flammable liquid, trash, etc.); and
  5. Extent of fire (severity of fire and smoke).

If the fire is controllable, put out the fire with the appropriate material and notify Campus Police.

Emergency Procedures for Radiation Producing Devices

In event of an emergency, call the following:

  • During working hours – call Radiation Safety 515-2894 or 911
  • After working hours – call Campus Police 911, who will notify the Radiation Safety

Emergency telephone numbers should be available to everyone who works in the lab, posted near the telephone or outside the entrances to the lab.

Individuals who suspect that they have been exposed to the direct beam from any x-ray producing equipment must:

  1. Immediately turn off the equipment
  2. Call the emergency numbers listed above
  3. Notify their supervisor
  4. Remain in the area until help arrives
The Radiation Safety Officer, or designee, will do the following:
  1. Investigate the incident
  2. Estimate the exposure to the individual.
  3. Make the appropriate notifications.

Miscellaneous Incidents and Emergencies

The following may constitute a radiation incident or emergency:

  • Loss or theft of any radioactive material or radiation-producing device
  • High or potentially high radiation exposure to an employee or member of the general public.
  • Intake of radioactive material by inhalation, ingestion, skin absorption, or injection through the skin or wound.
  • Deceptive or potentially deceptive exposure of a dosimeter.
  • Personnel contamination which cannot be removed after two washes with soap and water.
  • Spills involving significant activities of 125I or 131I with the potential for inhalation.
  • Removable contamination in unrestricted areas (e.g. hallways, offices, vehicles, etc.) which exceed the limits outlined in 15A NCAC 11.
  • Radiation fields in unrestricted areas which exceed the limits specified for members of the general public in 15A NCAC 11.
  • Accidental or unmeasured releases of radioactive material to the environment.
  • Fire or floods which threaten to release radioactive material to the environment or which threaten to expose emergency response personnel.
  • An on-site transportation accident involving radioactive material.
  • Personnel injuries which may involve radioactive material contamination of the wound.
  • Additional situations deemed pertinent by the Radiation Safety Committee or Radiation Safety Officer.