Radiation Emergency Information

Emergency Contact Information:

  • Call the EHS Office at (512) 471-3511 during normal service hours Monday – Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Call Campus Police at (512) 471-4441 (press 9 for dispatch) after normal service hours or during holidays.

Radiation Spill Response

Notes 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.

Minor Radiation Spill (<100 microcuries)

  1. Alert people in the immediate area of the spill. Allow no one to return to work in the area until the incident is resolved.
  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 the area, hands, and shoes for contamination with an appropriate survey meter and confirm readings are at background.
  6. Repeat cleanup procedure until contamination is no longer detected.
  7. Document the spill in the lab’s radiation contamination survey log.
  8. If assistance is needed, call the Radiation Safety Office.

Major Radiation Spill (>100 microcuries)

  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. Do not attempt to clean up the spill. If possible, prevent the spread of contamination by covering the spill with absorbent paper (paper should be dampened, if solids are spilled).
  5. Shield the source only if it can be done without further contamination or significant increase in radiation exposure.
  6. Decontaminate personnel by removing contaminated clothing and flushing contaminated skin with lukewarm water and then washing with a mild soap.
  7. Immediately call the Radiation Safety Officer.
  8. Close the doors and prevent entrance into affected area.

Injuries Involving Radioactive Materials

If a person is both injured and contaminated, the following listed action will vary with different accident conditions. Contact the Radiation Safety Officer for assistance if needed.

  1. For serious injuries, immediately call 911. Treatment of the serious injury should take precedence over almost all concern for contamination control and radiation exposure.
  2. Notify the Radiation Safety Officer.
  3. No transport restrictions should be imposed that would seriously compromise the patient's medical care.
  4. When transporting a contaminated patient to a hospital emergency room or the designated emergency receiving point, the following procedures should be followed:
    1. Contaminated clothing should be removed if, possible.
    2. If skin decontamination is necessary, wash the patient thoroughly with soap or detergent and water.
    3. Wrap patient in a clean sheet or blanket.
    4. A representative from the Radiation Safety Office should accompany the patient, but do not delay transport if Radiation Safety personnel are not present.
  5. External contamination is not immediately harmful to the patient unless the skin is badly punctured or wet.
  6. Minor injuries can usually be treated at the scene and can usually wait until after an initial radiation survey has been completed.
  7. Radioactive materials should not be allowed to come in contact with a cut anywhere on the body. If a person is cut by a contaminated article, this should receive immediate treatment. It should first be cleansed very thoroughly. The wound should be checked for contamination if a high energy beta or gamma emitter is known to be involved. Contact the Radiation Safety Officer about cuts involving possible contamination.

Personnel Exposure


Ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact (absorption/injection) of radioactive material are routes for internal exposures. If there appears to be a likelihood that a significant internal exposure has occurred, immediately contact the Radiation Safety Officer to determine if a bioassay is necessary.


Radioactive materials or x-ray-producing machines are sources of external exposures. If there appears to be a likelihood that a significant external exposure has occurred, immediately contact the Radiation Safety Officer to determine further actions.