Radiation Emergency Procedures

Notify Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) as soon as possible in case of area or personnel contamination or excessive exposure to radiation and prior to attempting extensive area decontamination.

Non-life threatening radiation emergency during normal business hours, Call EH&S at (510) 642-3073.

Non-life threatening radiation emergency after normal business hours, Call (510) 642-6760 from a cell phone.

Emergency Procedure for Radioactive Material Spills

Any contamination on people is the first priority. Remove contaminated clothing and flush contaminated skin with copious amounts of lukewarm water and mild soap. DO NOT abrade the skin. Call EH&S at (510) 642-3073 for immediate assistance.

  • Step out of the spill area and control access to the area.  Inform everyone in the immediate area of the spill and limit traffic near the spill.  Ask everyone to stay close by so they can be checked for contamination before leaving the lab. Call EH&S and discuss the spill with them. EH&S will make a determination regarding the spill, give you instructions, and will tell you how to proceed.


  • Immediately evacuate all lab personnel from the room and close the door.

  • Post someone nearby to prevent others from entering the room and call EH&S for help.

  • Do not leave the immediate area until EH&S arrives, performs surveys, and releases you.

Be conservative when you determine the area of the spill. Visual information will be helpful, but rely on survey instruments and swipes to be safe. Be sure to wear double gloves, a lab coat, and appropriate eye protection. Monitor your gloves and shoes frequently for contamination. If you find that significant shoe contamination exists, stop and call EH&S.

Decontamination Procedures


  • Remove contaminated clothing immediately and flush the skin with copious amounts of lukewarm water and mild soap.  DO NOT abrade the skin.  

  • Notify EH&S at (510) 642-3073 as soon as possible. Restrict the contaminated individual's movements and stay in the area until EH&S arrives.

  • In case of an injury, call 911 or 510-642-6760 to obtain medical assistance, then notify EH&S immediately. Treat injuries first, without regard to radioactive contamination.


  1. Place absorbent materials at the edges of the spill if it is spreading.

  2. Begin the decontamination process from the edges of the spill working inward.  Use a decontamination solution (or soap and water) and paper towels to decontaminate the area.

  3. By working in small (12" by 12" square) areas you can help reduce the spread of contamination.

  4. As you decontaminate the area, use an appropriate survey meter (or swipes if you are working with 3H) to find out how much contamination there is, where it is, and how effective your efforts are to remove the contamination as you proceed.

  5. Be careful to stay out of the spill, absorb any liquids by placing paper towels on top of the spill.

  6. Carefully place all contaminated papers and materials in a properly labeled radioactive waste bag as you go.

  7. When you think that you have the spill cleaned up, take swipes of the spill area and of surrounding areas such as doorways, adjacent hallways, elevators, and shoes. Keep cleaning until the area is clean (below twice background).

  8. Document the spill findings, your final survey, and any notes that you may need to refer to in the future. Keep your self-surveys and swipe data.

Remember to monitor all persons, equipment, and waste being moved from the spill area. Handle contaminated materials as radioactive waste.

Other Radiation Emergencies


If suspected exposure of fingers, eyes, or any body part to the primary beam or failure of a shutter or enclosure interlock occurs, call (510) 642-3073.


Notify EH&S immediately if you suspect the loss or theft of radioactive materials or radiation producing machines. If the event is a theft,  UCPD should be notified as well.