Good Lab Practices when Handling RAM


Gloves: Disposable gloves shall be worn when handling radioactive materials in an uncontained form and when handling any item in the radiation work area.  Contaminated gloves shall be removed and deposited in a radioactive waste receptacle before leaving the radioisotope work area. 

Lab Coats: Laboratory coats (or similar protective clothing) shall be worn when handling radioisotopes in an uncontained form. Laboratory coats (or similar protective clothing) worn in potentially contaminated areas shall not be worn in non-radioactive areas, unless surveyed and found to be not contaminated. 

Attire: When actively working with RAM, full length pants or equivalent must be work at all times. The area of skin between the pants and shoe should not be exposed.

Shoes: Closed-toed shoes shall be worn when handling radioisotopes in an uncontained form. 

Survey: All protective clothing, including hands and feet, must be surveyed prior to leaving the radiation work area. 

For additional information on EHS PPE requirements, see the Personal Protective Equipment page. 



Gamma Emitters: Lead or similar high-density shielding is required for routine handling of quantities greater than 1 mCi of gamma emitters.

Syringes: Shielded syringes are to be used when activities of greater than 1 mCi gamma emitters are used in hand held syringes.

High Energy Betas: Plastic or other low-density shielding is required when using more than 5 mCi of a high energy beta emitter such as P-32. 

Waste: Shields may be required for radioactive waste storage as well as for the work area to maintain ALARA doses. 

EHS reuses lead and plexiglass shielding, so contact if you are needing any additional shielding. 



Items: Small items, such as pipettes, syringes, pens, etc., should be individually labeled as contaminated.  Or, the items should be confined to a well-defined and labeled area which indicates that any items in that area are contaminated or have the potential to be contaminated. 

Equipment: Equipment such as centrifuges, refrigerator/freezers, fume hoods, etc., should be labeled when the use of these items could lead to internal contamination.  Labeling, along with appropriate training of all personnel, will preclude spreading of contamination by multiple users of this equipment.



Keep accurate records of your material receipt and usage. Note any transfers in or out, and keep records of your waste disposal, including non-radioactive chemical constituents.



Make sure all personnel’s training is up to date. It is recommended that all RW’s have continuing radiation safety training each year. The RSS provides many different opportunities for training throughout the year.



Monitoring must be conducted after each use of uncontained radioactive material and in the case of spills and decontamination. Hands, shoes, floor, work area, etc. must be monitored after each use of RAM. Documented surveys must be done at the specified intervals based on activity of the radioactive material handled. Remember to do both meter surveys and swipes. Swipes are valuable in assessing removable contamination. See Procedures for Surveys for specific requirements.



Fume hoods or other forms of secondary containment must be used when working with greater than 1.0 mCi quantities of a radioactive material bound or incorporated into a chemical or physical form, which may easily become airborne or volatile. 

For example:

  • dusts
  • iodine
  • compounds which have a high vapor pressure
  • compounds which sublime
  • any actions which may cause atomization, etc.


Experiments with commonly authorized radionuclide’s (I-125 or I-131 sodium iodide, S-35 methionine, H-3 as tritiated water and less frequently C-14 labeled organic solvents) may produce volatile materials. Any chemical or physical form that readily volatilizes or evaporates or any experimental procedure that may liberate airborne materials must be considered an airborne risk and should be handled in a properly operating fume hood.


Page last updated on June 7, 2019.