They have a low penetrating power - you can stop them with just a sheet of paper.
Alpha particles can not penetrate your skin. Due to the low penetrating power of Alpha particles, they are generally not a cause for concern, unless you ingest some material that emits Alpha radiation.
For the most part, materials that emit Alpha particles, also emit some Beta or Gamma radiation.
Beta particles ( b ) are fast, and light.
Beta particles have a medium penetrating power - they are stopped by a thin sheet of aluminum (such as aluminum foil) or plastic. Beta particles can penetrate deeply into your skin.
Gamma rays ( g ) have a high penetrating power - it takes a thick sheet of metal such as lead, or concrete to reduce them significantly.
- Clearly label containers, equipment, and areas for the handling of radioisotopes with radioactive labeling tape. The labeling tape can be obtained from your institution stockroom or through an appropriate vendor. Minimize radioactive material work-space.
- Use absorbent material (benchcoat) and trays to confine spills and reduce the spread of potential contamination.
- Wear protective clothing. The minimum requirements include a laboratory coat, safety glasses and close-toed shoes. Wear disposable gloves, either single or double pair, depending on the radionuclide you are working with. Choose gloves that are appropriate for the chemical and other hazards in your experiment. If you are unsure about the type of protective glove to use call the Radiation Protection Office (RPO) at 495-2060.
- Traps to collect radioactivity may be necessary (as required under some permits) (e.g.: vacuum line traps). If a trap is not available, contact the RPO.
- Dedicate equipment such as pipettes and glassware to radioactivity work and avoid cross contamination.
- Plan your experiment so that mixed waste (i.e. hazardous chemical or biologically active combined with radioactivity) is not generated. If this cannot be avoided contact the Radiation Protection Office (RPO) for further assistance.
- A Liquid Scintillation Counter for low energy beta radiation.
- Portable Survey Meter with appropriate probe(s).
- Disposable latex or plastic gloves.
- Luxel Dosimeter (and finger ring, if assigned).
- Lab coat, safety glasses, and close-toed shoes.
- Containers for radioactive waste.
- Pipettes dedicated to the use of your radionuclide.
- Safety glasses (to protect from splash and shield from beta radiation).
- Change your gloves often. Assume gloves are contaminated until proven otherwise. Do not leave the laboratory or touch things outside of the work space with potentially contaminated gloves. Remove gloves carefully from the inside out. Ensure that gloves are disposed of properly and wash hands immediately.
- Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or touch exposed areas of skin while working in a room where radioisotopes are handled. Be careful not to rub your eyes, scratch exposed areas of skin, or touch your hair when working with radioactive material.
- Use automatic or remote pipetting devices. NEVER pipette by mouth.
- Allow sufficient time for frozen stock solutions to thaw before attempting to withdraw an aliquot. If you are working with 35S-methionine, Cysteine, and Translabel® refer to the related worksheet for 35S volatility.
- Handle volatile compounds, which have the potential for vapor or gas release (such as Na125I or 35S-Methionine or Cysteine) in a functioning hood.
- Handle and dispose of spin (centrifuge) columns with care. Place used columns in a sealed container (capped tube or Ziploc® bag) prior to discarding into the radioactive waste.
- Promptly dispose of radioactive waste properly. Make a reasonable estimate of the amount of
- radioactivity in the waste and record on a radioactive waste tag.
- Lock-up and secure your radioactive stock solutions immediately after use.
- Survey yourself and work area for contamination with an appropriate survey meter. Decontaminate if necessary. Remove protective clothing and wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before leaving the laboratory.
- Note the results of your survey on your personal survey record of the work area. This is required if you are working with more than 1 mCi.
- Sink disposal must be done according to the approved guidelines. Do not exceed the posted daily limit for the radionuclide, unless otherwise authorized by the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) in the permit.
- Participate in the bioassay program as requested by the Radiation Protection Office.