Follow these steps to respond to an intermediate or high-level radioactive spill:

Protect Personnel

  1. If hazard is extreme (high radiation level or possibility of air contamination), evacuate the area immediately; close and lock the door.
  2. Rid victim of contamination: Remove contaminated clothing and wash contaminated parts of the body thoroughly with mild detergent. Bag contaminated items.
  3. Flush out any wounds with copious amounts of water.
  4. Warn fellow workers and keep others out of the area.

Confine Contamination

  1. Localize area of spill. Turn containers upright that have tipped over and place absorbent material at edges of liquid spills.
  2. Do not loiter in the area of a dry spill without respiratory protection. Shut off or close ventilating system if possible and turn off fans and blowers on hoods.
  3. Minimize the spread of contamination. Remove shoes or don shoe covers at the edge of contaminated area when summoning help.
  4. If contamination is widespread outside the laboratory, it may be necessary to call the University Police 217-333-8911 to assist in establishing traffic control.
  5. Check all objects and clothing for contamination before leaving adjacent area. This includes clothing, tools, equipment, or other personal effects not worn during the accident.
  6. Call DRS at 217-333-2755 as soon as possible.
  7. In all cases, consult the Emergency Call List posted in or near every radiation laboratory.


  1. Abortive attempts at decontamination can make things much worse. Unless immediate action is demanded to safeguard personnel and equipment, decontamination should be done under the supervision of DRS.
  2. DRS will determine the procedures and equipment to be used and will render such assistance as necessary.
  3. All personnel and areas involved must be monitored to assure adequate decontamination before normal work is resumed.

Follow these steps to respond to a low-level radioactive spill:

  1. Wear appropriate protective clothing to reduce personnel contamination.
  2. Cordon off the contaminated area. Secure with signs and warning tape, or post staff to prevent anyone from entering the affected area.
  3. Notify personnel in the area about the contamination.
  4. Decontaminate from the outside of the spill area towards the center to avoid spreading contamination. Soap and water may be used to clean most surfaces; however, do not roughen the surface because it will make it more difficult to decontaminate. For stubborn contamination, consult the DRS for recommendations for decontamination agents.
  5. Remove protective clothing when leaving the contaminated area to reduce the spread of the contamination.
  6. Treat all decontamination equipment and run-off as being contaminated. Decontaminate, or treat as radioactive waste, as appropriate.
  7. Make a complete record of the decontamination process.
  8. Monitor the area to ensure thorough decontamination.
Last Update: 9/15/2016
Updated By: tmcgill