In the laboratory there are measurement instruments that can to be used to check the amount of radioactivity and where it is. Hence you can verify that neither you nor your fellow students are exposed to irradiation above the safe limits.
For people who are pregnant the rules for exposure are especially strict, nevertheless the amount of activity in most student course exercises are so small that there are no health concerns. In exercises which use larger amount of radioactivity, you will be specially briefed and this will be made quite clear to everybody participating. Do not hesitate to discuss any safety concerns with either your supervisor or radiation protection officer.
The ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle is the main guideline for all rad. work and should be followed at all times: No person should be exposed to more radiation than absolutely necessary to carry out the work. Therefore all work done with radioactivity should be done meticulous and planned in advance. Mistakes or carelessness could easily contaminate yourself and/or persons around you. To avoid this keep equipment that has been in contact with activity separated from equipment that is not contaminated and keep workbenches etc. tidy and clean.
When planning the exercise one should always think about the precautions one must use so that no active material is spread. Therefore certain rules must be followed:
- A special lab-coat (not your own) shall be used during all work in the laboratory and it shall not be used or carried out of the laboratory.
- There shall be no eating or smoking in the laboratory, this includes chewing gum or sweets of any kind.
- Only needed papers and writing material shall be taken into the laboratory.
- Purses and other personal effects shall be put in the wardrobe.
- Before an exercise starts all the equipment needed must be at the work station.
- Always test your equipment with non-active material ("cold run") first to ensure that everything works as intended before actually performing the experiment ("warm run").
- Gloves must be used when there is danger of contamination and spilling, i.e. whenever you handle radioactive material or equipment which has been in contact with the radioactive material.
- All work with radioactive material shall be done in safety trays with absorbing paper in the bottom.
- At regular intervals and when needed check (with the hand monitor) for contamination on equipment or work space(s) which are supposed to be clean.
- In case of any accident, minor or major, immediately inform your supervisor or the radiation protection officer. An accident includes all cases when there is contamination on persons, equipment or work spaces which should be clean.
- All solid active-waste shall be put in specially labeled waste containers. Glass and metal shall not be mixed with paper and plastic. Liquid waste is collected in designated containers. Flammable organic liquids are to be kept separated from aquatic liquids, etc. Radioactive solutes shall not, under any circumstances be poured uncontrolled into the sink. If you work with several different radio nuclei avoid mixing them, but use separate waste containers. All waste containers shall have waste accumulation logs – make sure to update the logs!
- When you have finished the radioactive work make sure to clean and tidy up your work station. Clean all the equipment and control it and the work space for contamination. This should be noted down in your journal and signed. In case of contaminated material or equipment, put it in a plastic bag (zip-lock), label it carefully and confer with your supervisor about what you should do with it.
- When leaving the laboratory, hands should be checked for contamination (without gloves) and thoroughly washed as an extra precaution. If your lab or lab area is equipped with a hand/feet monitor always use it before leaving the restricted are.
Before you start your exercise, you are required to think through the work and operations you are going to perform and evaluate the associated likelihood of having an accident and how serious such an accident could be. This evaluation is required to be written in your journal and signed by yourself and your supervisor before you start any practical work.