Radiation Emergency Procedures


A radiation emergency may include any of the following:

  • An overexposure from a radiation producing machine or from radioactive materials.
  • Personal contamination from radioactive materials.
  • Possible inhalation or ingestion or radioactive materials.
  • A spill of radioactive materials.

*** In the event of a radiation emergency during work hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.), please contact the Radiation Safety Department at 410-706-7055 or call Campus Police at 711 if the emergency occurs during off hours.

If there is a spill, remember the following acronym:

S.W.I.M.

  • Stop the spill. Take actions to prevent the further spread of radioactive contamination.
  • Warn others. Report the spill to EHS. Report whether there are any contaminated and/or injured personnel. Call 711 for any medical emergencies. Treatment of life-threatening injuries is a priority over spill actions. Document all actions taken to resolve the situation.
  • Isolate the spill area. Use physical barriers if possible. Verify contamination boundaries by scanning the area with the appropriate radiation detection instruments. Keep in mind that certain isotopes (i.e., H-3) cannot be detected using portable instrumentation. A liquid scintillation counter (LSC) must be used in these instances.
  • Minimize your exposure. Wear the necessary PPE. Avoid contact with the skin. Make use of time, distance, and shielding.

If there is a minor spill (less than 10 microcuries of radioactive material):

  • Attempt cleanup only if you have received appropriate training.
  • Clean area using standard cleaning agents and dispose of all contaminated cleaning materials into a radioactive waste container.
  • Repeat cleaning procedure until contamination levels go below 200 DPM.
  • Monitor area, hands, and shoes for contamination with appropriate radiation detection instruments.

If there is a major spill (greater than 10 microcuries of radioactive material):

  • Evacuate the area/keep hoods running/turn off any oscillating fans.
  • Have all potentially contaminated personnel stay in a designated area until they have been shown to be free of contamination.
  • Call the Radiation Safety Department at EHS at 410-706-7055 if the spill occurs during work hours. If the spill occurs off hours, please call Campus Police at 711.
  • Follow all instructions from the RSO. Do not re-enter area until RSO gives approval.
  • Have personnel knowledgeable of the incident and laboratory and remain available to provide information to emergency personnel.

Emergency Procedure Forms