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General FAQs
Q. What do I do in case of a spill or accident with RAM?
A. Please refer to the Instructions Regarding Accidents Involving Radioactive Material document that is posted in every RAM use area.   In the event of a major spill, please notify Radiation Safety immediately and we will instruct you as to further action.  24 hour Emergency Phone 299-1322.   If it is a minor spill, begin by informing others and ask for help.  Cover the spill with absorbent paper.  Mark off the area and restrict access to reduce the spread of contamination.  Decontaminate as necessary, disposing of supplies as radwaste.  Survey and document the results; repeat as needed.  Survey yourself and others before vacating the area.  At any time in this process, feel free to call Radiation Safety to ask for assistance.
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Q. How do I contact Radiation Safety?
A. Radiation Safety can be reached by the following:
Q. What are the requirements concerning security of RAM?
A. Our practice is that any amount of radioactive material that by law is required to be labeled, must be either attended or secured at all times.  This would include nearly all of the materials at our institution.  Once the material in a lab is not in attendance by a member of the lab staff, the lab door must be locked.  Understanding that sometimes this is not always practical, you can apply for a "Security Exemption" to be able to leave the doors unlocked.  In order to obtain this exemption, you must employ means to secure the materials inside the lab - including waste and samples - before the doors can be left unlocked.  Please contact the Radiation Safety Office for more information about our security policy.  You can obtain the security exemption request from this website.
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Q. What records do I need to keep and for how long?
A. Package Receipts/Accountabilities should be kept forever.  Keep at least 3 years worth in your current notebook; older ones can be put in a separate archive notebook if you wish.  Surveys should be kept for at least 3 years, longer if space allows.   Documentation of any spills within the lab should be kept forever.  Also, Decay-in-storage records (DIS) records should be retained forever.   Anything else should be kept as long as reasonable and prudent.
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Q. What is the policy on eating and drinking in laboratories?
A. To summarize: Eating, drinking, applying cosmetics and related activities are prohibited in laboratory areas that contain hazardous materials.   Any location that is approved for the use of radioactive materials (RAM) is therefore subject to this policy.   Food, drink and related items must be consumed and stored in areas external to the laboratory or within designated "break rooms".  Please refer to the official Eating, Drinking and Related Activities in Laboratories policy on the EH&S website for more specific information.
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Q. What is a "break room" and what must I do to get one?
A. A "break room" is a space within a hazardous materials laboratory that can be designated for the storage and consumption of food and drink.  In order to be considered a break room, the space must:
  • Contain no hazardous materials;
  • Be separated from the lab by a closeable door that must be closed whenever food or drink is open or being consumed;
  • Have floor-to-ceiling walls;
  • Be surveyd for radioactive contamination with the same survey methods and frequencies as the main lab;
  • Be posted with a "radioactive materials" sign as you leave it going back into the radiation-approved area.
You may also designate one sink within the lab to use as a "wash sink" to rinse dishes, fill cups, etc.  In order to have a break room, you must keep a written procedure in your EH&S Blue Book indicating the location of any break rooms or wash sinks and verifying that all these measures have been instituted.   The Standard Break Room Template should be used to designate break rooms and wash sinks.
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Q. What constitutes "Evidence of eating/drinking/storing food or drink" within a hazardous materials laboratory?
A. Examples would include: Obvious food or drink in lab areas such as desks, refrigerators, microwaves, shelves, etc.; empty dishes or lunch bags in the lab; food/drink waste in laboratory trash cans; eating/drinking/storing food in an interior space that does not meet the requirements of a "break room"; food-related dishware being left to dry on a drying rack; un-covered containers of food or drink being transported through the lab; and gum-chewing.
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Q. How can I provide feedback regarding radiation safety inspections in my lab?
A. We strive to provide and maintain exemplary customer service.  Please click here to open our Inspection Customer Service Survey.   This form can be used to provide any feedback you may have on radiation safety inspections conducted in your lab.   If printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper, the survey can easily be folded over, stapled, and dropped in the mail.   You may also contact radiation safety directly at 314-362-3476 or with your feedback.
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