Radiation Accident Response

General Procedures:

  1. Evaluate the accident and call for help. The first person to observe the accident should try to quickly estimate the severity of the situation and evacuate personnel to a safe place such as an assembly or check point. DMPRS must be notified as soon as possible.
  2. Confine the hazard. If possible, secure the area and stand in a safe area nearby to provide information and assistance. Reduce the spread of contamination by limiting travel from the area and by checking yourself and the area for contamination.
  3. Protect and Evacuate Personnel. Warn other persons in the immediate vicinity and assist any persons who may be contaminated or injured.

MINOR SPILLS [Spills involving < 1 mCi (< 10 uCi if volatile) AND no personnel injury involved]:

  1. NOTIFY: Notify the people in the area that a spill has occurred.
  2. PREVENT THE SPREAD: Cover the spill with absorbent material, and prevent access to the area by unauthorized personnel.
  3. CLEAN UP: Wear disposable gloves and protective clothing such as a lab coat and booties and clean up the spill using absorbent paper. Carefully fold the absorbent material with the clean side out and place in a plastic bag for transfer to a radioactive waste container. Also, place the contaminated gloves and other contaminated disposable material in the bag.
  4. SURVEY: Survey the area with a low-range radiation detection survey instrument sufficiently sensitive to detect the radionuclide. Check for removable contamination to ensure contamination levels are below trigger levels. Check the area around the spill. Also check hands, clothing, and shoes for contamination.
  5. REPORT: Report incident to the DMPRS/RSO (617-358 7688)

MAJOR SPILLS (Spills involving ≥ 1 mCi ( ≥ 10 uCi if volatile) OR personnel injury involved]:

  1. CLEAR THE AREA: Notify all persons not involved in the spill to vacate the room.
  2. Attend to injured personnel as necessary.
  3. PREVENT THE SPREAD: If possible, cover the spill with absorbent material, but do not attempt to clean it up. Confine the movement of all personnel potentially contaminated to prevent the spread.
  4. SHIELD THE SOURCE: If possible, the spill should be shielded, but only if it can be done without further contamination or without significantly increasing radiation exposure.
  5. CLOSE THE ROOM: Leave the room and lock the door(s) to prevent entry.
  6. Decontaminate personnel by removing contaminated clothing and flushing contaminated skin with lukewarm water and then washing with mild soap. If contamination remains, induce perspiration by covering the area with plastic. Then wash the affected area again to remove any contamination that was released by the perspiration.
  7. CALL FOR HELP: Notify the DMPRS (617-358-7688) or the Control Center immediately: BU/BMC: 617-414-4144 / CRC: 617-353-2105.


  1. Remove contaminated clothing and store for further evaluation by the Radiation Safety.
  2. If the spill is on the skin, flush thoroughly and then wash with mild soap and lukewarm water.  If contamination remains, induce perspiration by covering the area with plastic (e.g., rubber glove). Then wash the affected area again to remove any contamination that was released by the perspiration.
  3. For radioactive material exposure to the eye:
    • Flush with water for at least 15 minutes at an emergency eye wash station.
    • Hold eyelids open while flushing.
  4. Injured persons should have first aid performed as necessary and decontaminated.
  5. If life-threatening injuries are present, the individual should be given immediate life-saving first aid and then transported to a hospital for further medical treatment regardless of any contamination present. The hospital should be given prior notification that the patient may be contaminated so that appropriate controls can be implemented.
  6. Report all radioactive material exposures to the Radiation Safety at 617-638-7052, or use phone number above if after work hours).


Terminate the source of exposure and prevent others from being exposed. Use additional shielding as needed. Notify the DMPRS so the nature and extent of exposure can be determined and, if a severe exposure is suspected, seek medical attention.


If a radioactive source is lost, stolen, or damaged, notify the DMPRS immediately! DMPRS (617-358-7688) or the Control Center immediately:  BU/BMC: 617-414-4144 / CRC: 617-353-2105.


In the event that you are working with volatile radioactive material that requires a fume hood the following procedures should be followed:

  1. CLEAR THE AREA: Notify all persons to vacate the restricted area. Notify the RSO or designee if necessary.
  2. HAVE A SURVEY PERFORMED BY THE RSO OR DESIGNEE: After the power is restored, use an appropriate survey instrument to check the area in vicinity of the fume hood or radioactive material storage area. Take swipe tests of the area of concern. Check the airflow into the hood.
  3. RETURN TO THE AREA: If no abnormal reading were found, proceed with CLEAN UP and SURVEY steps as stated above in MINOR SPILLS.