Radiation Safety Lab Guidelines

Environmental Health and Safety's Radiation Section mission is to support research and teaching activities by providing training, information and services that enable individual faculty, staff, and students to work safely and in compliance with health/safety and environmental regulations.

Ordering Radioactive Materials

  1. Obtain data from vendor.
  2. Fill out Purchase Order including chemical form of the isotope, User Name, Isotope Name (P-32, S-35, or H-3), Amount of the Isotope, and Authorization Number.
  3. Send information to department purchaser.
  4. Send Purchase Order to Radiation Safety via the UT Mainframe for approval.

Receiving Radioactive Materials

  1. Upon receiving the radioactive package inspect to see if the package has been checked for contamination by examining the security seal and confirming the package was opened by Radiation Safety Personnel. If the radioactive package is ok then sign the receipt and store in the proper location.
  2. If the package wasn't properly checked do not sign the receipt and ask the Radiation Safety Personnel to check the package for contamination.

Waste Processing Procedures

  1. Use clear or black plastic bags for collection only. This includes smaller bags used for bench top waste. Waste must be dry with no moisture visible inside the bags.
  2. Fill out waste form completely before turning it in to Radiation Safety for waste pick up.
  3. Separate solid waste by half-life. a.Short half-life is less than to 300 days. Long half-life is greater than 300 days.
  4. For bulk liquid wastes use sturdy plastic containers. Lids to all containers must be sealed completely to prevent leakage during transport. If your lab doesn't have the proper container please call EHS at 512-471-3511 and they will provide you with the proper container. Please do not use glass containers.
  5. If your liquid waste is water soluble then all isotopes can be placed together in the container. Please label the container stating that the liquid is water soluble and form of waste.
  6. If the liquid waste is not water soluble put this waste in a separate container and identify the contents.

Liquid Scintillation Vials and Cocktail Waste

  1. Separate and pack vials containing only P-32 and/or S-35 in scintillation fluid from other liquid scintillation vials.
  2. Place all radioactive liquid scintillation vials in the original trays in the upright position.
    1. Return trays, in the upright position, to the original shipping boxes.
    2. Tape box closed and clearly mark the “up” direction on the outside of the box.
  3. If the original container is not available or vials were bought in bulk:
    1. Choose a sturdy cardboard box or metal can of a size, which will accommodate no more than 500 standard vials or 1,000 sub-mini vials.
    2. Line the container with a plastic bag and then place a layer of absorbent paper in the bag.
    3. Place another plastic bag on top of the absorbent paper. This is where the vials will be placed.
    4. Seal both plastic bags when full.
  4. If the scintillation vials contain (H-3, C-14, or I-125) and the fluid is less than or equal to 0.05 uCi, then place the scintillation fluid in a container (Please mark this container stating that it contains scintillation fluid)and dispose of the vials in the regular trash.
  5. If the scintillation vials containing (H-3, C-14, or I-125) and the fluid is greater than 0.05 uCi, then follow steps 2 and 3, and label the container and/or the bags as high concentration.

Animal Materials

No animal waste will be picked up for disposal prior to suitable deactivation of infectious agents. Four types of radioactive waste are generated from animal experiments; bedding, dry, blood/urine and carcasses. Each type is to be segregated and prepared for disposal.


  1. This consists of bedding material only. Bedding is to be double bagged in plastic bags.
  2. Separate the bedding material by the half life that was used on the animal (See Waste Processing Procedure, step 3)

Dry / Solid Waste

  1. Dry or solid waste also follows the Waste Processing Procedures.

Blood / Urine

  1. Collect blood/urine separately in plastic container.
  2. Follow the bulk liquid waste procedures.


  1. Separate carcasses with half-life less than 300 days and place these in double bagged plastic bags. These can be held at your site until it is decayed out. Then dispose as you would a regular carcass.
  2. Separate carcasses with a half-life greater than 300 days and those that are less than 0.05 uCi for H-3, C-14, and I-125. These carcasses should be placed in double-bagged plastic bags with as much of the air removed as possible.
  3. For those that have content greater than 0.05 uCi for H-3, C-14, and I-125 label high concentration and separate from the other carcasses.
  4. All carcasses should be kept frozen until Radiation Safety picks them up.

Sanitary Sewer Disposal

  • Dispose of aqueous radioactive liquid waste in sinks that have been marked as radioactive sinks. A record must be kept of all radioactive material put down the sink and sent to Radiation Safety on your quarterly inventory sheets.

Other Radioactive Waste

  • From time to time the disposal of radioactive material other than that mentioned in the above procedures may be necessary. This may include, but is not limited to the disposal of sources, LSC standards, uranium and thorium compounds. Phone Radiation Safety at 512-471-1496 for disposal information.

Waste Pickup Schedule

  • Waste pickup is scheduled for last Tuesday of every month with the exception of when the university is closed. Please have your waste pickup form turned in before the Monday prior to the date so that your lab doesn't get passed by.

Radiation Spill Response

Note and Precautions: Spreading of radiation beyond the spill area can easily occur by the movement of personnel involved in the spill or cleanup effort. Prevent spread by confining movement of personnel until they have been monitored and found free of contamination. A minor radiation spill is one that the laboratory staff is capable of handling safety without the assistance of the Radiation Safety Department. All other radiation spills are considered major.

Minor Radiation Spill

  1. Alert people in the immediate area of the spill.
  2. Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, disposable gloves, shoe covers, and long-sleeve lab coat.
  3. Place absorbent paper towels over liquid spill. Place towels dampened with water or decontaminant cleaner over spills of solid materials.
  4. Using forceps or gloved hand, placed towels in plastic bag. Dispose in radiation waste container.
  5. Monitor area, hands, and shoes for contamination with an appropriate survey meter. Repeat cleanup until contamination is no longer detected.
  6. If assistance needed, call Radiation Safety.

Major Radiation Spill

  1. Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  2. Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate.
  3. Have potentially contaminated personnel stay in one area until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.
  4. Call the Radiation Safety Officer and Radiation Safety Personnel.
  5. Close the doors and prevent entrance into affected area.
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