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Radiation Safety Laboratory Guidance

Signs and Labeling

Radiation Safety requires that you label your radioisotope use rooms (laboratories) with Caution Radioactive Material signs, authorized personnel notice, and Auburn University emergency contacts notice. Rooms that are used or serve as storage for radioactive materials must be properly labeled. Resources are provided in this section to help with the sign and labeling requirements. Access your BioRAFT account to produce the signs with instruction provided below. The Caution Radioactive Material signs must be printed on yellow paper and the contact information used must be up to date.

Any container (may include lock box, cabinet, fridge) of radioactive material or piece of equipment used in RAM work must be labeled, regardless of the level of radioactivity. It is advised to used Radioactive or Radioactive Material tape and each lab is responsible for maintaining its own supply of Radioactive Material tape. Labeling contaminated items and containers of radioactive material is an important tool for contamination control and is a courtesy to other laboratory personnel.

Rooms that are labeled as radioisotope use rooms have a very strict rule regarding ‘No Eating or Drinking.’ When you see a Caution Radioactive Material sign on a door, you will know that you are never permitted to eat or drink in that room. Storage of food, beverages, or medicines in refrigerators, freezers or cold-rooms where radioactive materials are used or stored are strictly forbidden. You may store your food, water bottles, beverages, medicines, coffee mugs, eating utensils, etc. in either a closed area or an area designated by your PI. You are not permitted to have these items on top of your desk or any other work surface.

Lastly, according to the Alabama Administrative Code, the ADPH has established standards for your protection against radiation hazards. One aspect of these established standards includes the posting of notices. ADPH notices must be posted where employees are employed in activities licensed or registered, pursuant to rules 420-3-26.

Frequency of Radiation and Contamination Surveys

Users of radioactive materials should survey their work areas after each experiment and at any time there is a reason to suspect a spill or contamination incident. These surveys do not have to be documented. Documented surveys (Radioactive Material Laboratory Contamination Survey Record) must be performed monthly for any laboratory in which unsealed radioactive materials are used or stored. The results of these surveys must be submitted to the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO). The Radiation Safety Committee or the RSO may require more frequent documented surveys for some laboratories. Radiation Safety conducts documented audits of laboratories in which unsealed radioactive materials are used or stored at least twice each year. This audit includes a contamination survey.

Contamination Levels

Any contamination (greater than twice background) discovered in accessible areas or on items outside of a clearly marked radioactive use benchtop or fume hood must be decontaminated promptly. See Appendix C of the Radiation Safety Manual or contact the Radiation Safety Office for more information.

Radiation Detection Instrumentation

Principal Investigators must provide radiation survey meters or appropriate counting instruments for use in laboratories where radioactive materials are used. Radiation Safety will calibrate portable survey meters at least annually and will replace weak or defective batteries and attempt minor repairs as needed. It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to make survey meters available for calibration and to obtain any other servicing or repairs necessary to keep them operational. Recommended survey instruments are required based on the type of radioactive material used by the PI. If you have questions regarding the type of instrumentation, contact the Radiation Safety Office.

Security of Radioactive Materials

Radioactive material in its original delivery vial or in any other single container with an activity requiring labeling must be kept under direct supervision, in locked storage (e.g. a locked cabinet or refrigerator), or in a locked laboratory. Material with a low activity such as contaminated waste, is not included in this requirement but reasonable measures should be taken to secure those materials.