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Extremity Dose Reduction. By Aggie Barlow, CHP, MS, MBA. Over or unnecessary exposure. There have been incidents at other institutions where workers have received radiation exposures to their hands which were over regulatory limits. In almost every case, these exposures

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extremity dose reduction

Extremity Dose Reduction

By Aggie Barlow, CHP, MS, MBA

over or unnecessary exposure
Over or unnecessary exposure

There have been incidents at other

institutions where workers have received

radiation exposures to their hands which

were over regulatory limits.

In almost every case, these exposures

were preventable.


As Low As Reasonably Achievable -

working every day, during every procedure

involving radioactive material [RAM] in such

a manner as to keep exposure doses low.

Regulatory agencies expect ALARA practices.

extremity exposure limits
Extremity Exposure Limits

50 Rem per year limit for extremities [ex. hands or wrists]

sources of exposure
Sources of Exposure

Stock vials




Experiments in progress

Sealed sources

Waste containers

sources of exposure continued
Sources of Exposure Continued

One does not have to be working with

large activities to receive large radiation


Even microcurie amounts can result in high

extremity doses when performing repetitive operations.

causes of high exposures
Causes of high exposures
  • Direct holding of unshielded RAM/source
  • Inadequate use of shielding
  • Inadequate use of remote handling devices
  • Lack of awareness of exposure levels in close

proximity to radiation sources

  • Operational pressures to meet deadlines
  • Working too slowly; not being prepared
  • Inadequate attention to As Low As

Reasonably Achievable Philosophy

time constraints
Time Constraints

Work pressures and workloads must

not be allowed to interfere with appropriate

radiation safety practices.

what can you do
What Can YOU do?

Do not pick up stock vials of high energy

beta emitters or gamma emitters directly

with the hand.

Use tongs whenever

feasible. Rubber coating

on tongs ensures grip.

stock vials
Stock vials

Stock vials contain concentrated solutions.

Store and carry them in the [lead] pig or other shipping container.

Place stock vials in secondary containers

for transport between rooms. Increased

distance from the vial reduces your exposure.

proper use of container design
Proper Use of Container Design

The bottom of the container is generally

designed to securely hold the vial in position for removal of an aliquot without the need for the worker to hold the stock vial itself. The top of many containers can also be used for hands-free opening of the stock vial.

correct use of of vial container
Correct Use of of vial container

Containers are designed to hold vials in place


Take aliquots from stock vials without removing the vial from the container whenever feasible. This keeps your fingers farther away from the RAM.

techniques to avoid
Handling vials directly

increases exposure to

your fingers.

Avoid this whenever

possible. Use the

container, rubber coated tongs or other remote handling


Techniques to avoid
proper container holding
Proper Container Holding

If you must pick up a stock vial or tube of RAM, keep your fingers as far away from the contents as possible. That is, pick it up from the top, so that your thumb is not under the

container near the contents at the bottom.

Gently tap liquid solutions to the bottom of the container.

hold vials so that your fingers are away from the radioactive material
Hold vials so that your fingers are away from the radioactive material

Poor Technique vs Good Technique

remote handling
Remote Handling

Carry tubes containing RAM in a tube

rack or other container so that your

fingers are at an increased distance from

the RAM.

remote handling devices
Remote handling devices
  • Use ring stands or other holding devices.
exposure vs distance
Exposure vs distance

The radiation dose rate varies inversely

as the square of the distance from the

source for electromagnetic radiation.

Therefore, keep your hands as far from

the radioactive material as feasible.

dose rates from stock vials
Dose rates from stock vials

One millicurie of I-125 has a dose rate of

> 500 mRem/hr on contact, but

< 2 mRem/hr at 6 inches [such as when

handled with rubber coated tongs]

proper glove technique preventing contamination
Proper Glove Technique- preventing contamination

Use of double gloves is strongly advised

when handling radioactive material.

Check your hands for contamination frequently while you work.

If contamination is found, change to a new

pair of gloves. Be sure to survey hands.

skin contamination surveys
Skin Contamination Surveys

When done using RAM, survey your hands

using a portable survey meter. Perform a

slow, careful survey of both sides of

the hand. But sure to include both sides

of your thumb, your wrists and lab coat


contamination of hands or skin
Contamination of hands or skin

Contact Tufts Police at 6-6911 for emergencies

Also have someone call Health Physics Group- Boston [6-6168].

In Grafton or Medford call RS/EHS at 6-3615

for assistance.

After hours call 636-6911 and Campus Police will help you get


Begin hand washing procedure using soap and warm water.

Wash, dry and resurvey the skin. Continue

washing if contamination is still present.

Seek Health Physics advice before

using abrasive cleansers.


Call 6-6911 for all Emergencies 24/7,

Call Radiation Safety Officer at 6-3615 or

617 308-3781 [cell],

Tufts EHS/Rad Safety Main Office

number is 6-3615.

After hours, Campus Police will

summon the personnel to assist you.

for more information non emergencies
For More Information – non emergencies

Contact Health Physics Group or Tufts RS/EHS at 636-3615 or 636-3450