In any radiation emergency, personnel protection comes first, confinement of radioactivity next. The amounts used on campus are low enough that the safety and health of first responders are NOT at risk.

Call 911 in an emergency that involves:

  • Serious injury
  • Fire or explosion
  • A spill of radioactive material that causes air contamination

If building evacuation is required, pull the fire alarm and move to the assembly area as outlined in your Building Emergency Action Plan (BEAP). From the safe location call 911 to inform the emergency responders about the accident and include information if radioactive materials were spilled or if a victim is contaminated.

After emergency notifications have been initiated, contact DRS at 217-333-2755 during office hours. During after-hours, DRS will be notified by emergency responders.

Identify yourself to the emergency responders and provide information as requested.

After the emergency has passed, DRS will follow up with all personnel involved to investigate the incident

Spill Clean-Up

Spills of radioactive material are cleaned up the same way as chemical spills based on the chemical properties. To limit the exposure to radiation, maximize your distance to the spill by using tools such as tongs and disposable mops. Protect your skin from contamination by wearing a lab coat, safety glasses and gloves with long cuffs. A face shield is recommended for large spills.

  1. Localize the spill and place absorbent material along the edges.
  2. Chose absorbent material based on the chemical properties, e.g. acid or base neutralizers for caustics, and inert absorbent pads or material such as vermiculite, dry sorb, or cat litter for any other liquids.
  3. Work from the outside in and absorb the spilled liquid or powder. Make sure not to step into the spill area.
  4. Place all absorbent material into a sturdy bag or container with lid. Include contaminated clothing and PPE. Seal the bag/container and submit to DRS for waste disposal.
  5. Clean the spill area with soap and water.
  6. Survey yourself including the bottom of your shoes and any items that may have come in contact with the spill to check for contamination.
  7. Survey the spill area and surroundings to check for radiation.
  8. If radiation is above background, place a shield over it and mark the area with radiation tape.
  9. Contact DRS.

Contamination of Personnel

In case of a spill of radioactive material that involves contamination of personnel, take the following steps:

  1. Remove contaminated clothing
  2. Wash the affected skin area thoroughly with water and a mild detergent. Do NOT use any harsh chemicals or scrubbers that could compromise the skin.
  3. Notify DRS at 217-333-2755 as soon as possible. DRS will determine and supervise decontamination procedures as necessary.

External Exposure

If someone received or believes to have received an exposure to a high radiation field, e.g. from an x-ray machine or a high-activity source, turn off the beam or shield the source to limit the exposure. Seek medical attention as necessary. Notify DRS. DRS will evaluate the potential exposure and initiate action as necessary.

Last Updated: 10/1/2020