Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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Laboratory Safety & Environmental Programs
Emergency Procedures
Incidents may occur during the use of radioactive materials, such as spills, contamination of the worker or work area and accidental release into the air. When an incident occurs, the worker must first make a judgment as to whether the incident is a minor or major incident. The chart below will help you to make the determination as to a minor or major incident. When in doubt, call REHS. There are no penalties for reporting an incident or requesting assistance.


The proper response to an emergency depends upon a thorough understanding of the magnitude of risks, priorities for action and the application of common sense. When calling REHS or the police to report a spill, the following information should be provided:
  • Location of incident
  • Authoree
  • Name and telephone number of person reporting
  • Persons contaminated or exposed, estimate of amount on skin
  • Radionuclide involved
  • Amount of radioactivity
  • Volume of released material
  • What steps have been taken so far?

In the event of a spill or emergency during normal business hours (Mon - Fri 8 am to 4:30 pm), REHS should be contacted at 848-445-2550.

After business hours, the Campus Police should be contacted at:

  • 911 or 6-911 in Piscataway / New Brunswick
  • 5111 in Newark, or
  • 6111 in Camden

Basic Procedures

When radioactive material is in an unwanted or unplanned location, it is called contamination. This may be on floors, equipment, work areas, people or areas outside the authorized laboratory. Fortunately, most radioactive contamination is easy to clean to background levels in a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable cost. Concentrated liquid decontaminating agents are available from most scientific suppliers. Other foam cleaning products, such as bathroom or kitchen cleaners, are just as effective at a much lower cost. Many other agents will work to clean radioactive contamination that has been resistant to other cleaners.

Emergency Procedures for Radiation Incidents

Minor Incident Laboratory Guidelines:
  • < 100 uCi of Radioactive Material (RAM)
  • No personal contamination
  • Localized contamination
  • No spread of RAM outside licensed areas
  • Proper tools and knowledge available for clean up
  • Stop source of the spill
  • Warn other personnel
  • Survey and mark the affected areas
  • Minimize exposures
  • Notify Authoree or designee
  • Begin cleanup
  • If area cannot be cleaned, notify REHS at (732) 445-2550
  • Document incident in laboratory survey book


Major Incident: (Any of the following conditions) Laboratory Guidelines:
  • > 100 uCi of Radioactive Material (RAM)
  • Skin and/or clothing contamination is involved (any quantity)
  • Airborne RAM is thought to be present
  • Large areas are contaminated
  • Contamination has spread outside licensed areas
  • Personnel injury or fire
  • Anytime you are unsure of what to do, or how to do it
  • Treat life threatening injuries first
  • Evacuate and lock (or post) laboratory if airborne or fire hazard exists
  • Perform first aid, if applicable
  • Remove contaminated clothing
  • Measure and record amount of contamination on skin with applicable meter and wash area gently with warm water and soap
  • Warn other personnel
  • Notify REHS at (732) 445-2550 and Authoree
  • If after hours, call Campus Police or
    Public Safety
  • Try to prevent the spread of contamination, if possible
  • Await the arrival of REHS


Overall Program Management - Patrick McDermott, or call 848-445-2550
Health Safety Specialists (By Campus Assignment), or call 848-445-2550

For more information, contact webmaster Last Updated:2/18/09
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