Labeled waste containers, plastic liners and radioactive labels may be obtained by contacting the Radiation Safety Office, unless otherwise indicated below. Use the following procedures for all radioactive waste. As with all radioactive materials, contaminated waste must be secured from unauthorized removal. Always contact the Radiation Safety Office if you have any questions.

A. Solids

Solid waste containers will be provided in two primary sizes: 10 and 32 gallons. Liquids shall not be placed in solid waste containers. Relatively small volumes (a few ml's) of aqueous liquid may be transferred onto absorbent material and placed in an appropriate solid radioactive waste container. Do not use this technique for organic solvents; flammable materials must never be placed in solid waste containers. Lead must not be placed in solid waste containers; it must be picked up separately. Segregate solid waste according to radionuclide half-life, as follows:

  • <=120 days
  • >120 days
  • transuranics elements (atomic numbers greater than 92)

For solid waste which will be held for decay (i.e., radionuclides with half-lives <=120 days), remove or deface all radiation labels before placing materials in waste containers. Additionally, solid waste shall be handled as follows.

  1. All glass pipettes and broken glassware must be placed in a cardboard box, lined with a clear plastic bag. When full, secure the box with the lid closed (please use tape) and place it into a 10 or 32 gallon "general labware" waste container of the same radioisotope category. The Radiation Safety Office can provide boxes and liners.
  2. General labware - Paper, plastic (including plastic pipettes), gloves, unbroken glassware, etc. must be placed in 10 or 32 gallon containers, lined with a clear plastic bag.
  3. Biohazards - As a general rule, if you generate waste that is both radioactive and biohazardous, you should contact both the Biosafety Officer and the Radiation Safety Officer for proper handling procedures. Prior to pickup by the Radiation Safety Office, any solid waste contaminated with potentially infectious material must be sterilized. Do not place radioactive biohazard material in "red bags" unless the radioactivity is in exempt quantities. Red bags are only to be used for materials that are to be incinerated. Sharps (needles and syringes, scalpels, etc.) must be placed in special sharps containers and properly labeled; contact the Radiation Safety Office for handling. "Clinical waste" that contains only H-3, C-14, or I-125 in concentrations <0.05 uCi/gram is not regulated as radioactive waste and may be disposed of as medical waste.

B. Liquids

All liquid waste must be stored in labeled containers that are compatible with the waste materials. Contact the Environmental Management Office for questions about compatibility. The Radiation Safety Office can provide 5 gallon plastic carboys for aqueous waste. Liquid wastes must not contain solids; such as pipette tips, gels, or filters. Liquid waste should be segregated into the following categories.

  1. Water soluble, biodegradable, non-hazardous aqueous liquids

    Any liquid radioactive waste released via the sanitary sewerage system must be water soluble, biodegradable, non-hazardous liquids.
    • Liquids containing less than 10 uCi may be poured down the sewer system in quantities not to exceed 10 uCi total per Authorized User per day. These disposals must be made only at designated, posted sinks or other release points. Records must be kept of all these disposals (in uCi) and the information must be provided to the Radiation Safety Office on a monthly basis. The intent of this permission is to dispose of small quantities of radioactivity contained in large volumes of fluid (>1 liter). Examples of such solutions are rinse water and buffer solutions. Radioactive liquids discharged to the sanitary sewer should be flushed with large amounts of running water. Liquid waste contaminated with plutonium or hazardous chemical constituents may not be poured down the sewer system.
    • Liquids containing greater than 10 uCi will be picked up by the Radiation Safety Office for disposal. If the radionuclides have half-lives <=120 days, the waste may be held for decay in the laboratory and then disposed of into the sanitary sewer system (as described above) after it has decayed to 10 uCi or less.
    • Liquids containing biohazards must be sterilized (by autoclave or chemical methods) prior to pick up by the Radiation Safety Office. Contact the Radiation Safety Officer for specific approval. Segregate waste according to isotope and half-life, as follows:
      • H-3, C-14, or I-125 in concentrations <0.05 uCi/gram of waste
      • half-life <= 120 days
      • half-life > 120 days
  2. Hazardous liquids (mixed waste)

    Waste that is hazardous and radioactive is called mixed waste. This waste is not permitted to be poured into the sewer system (this includes biodegradable scintillation fluid). All mixed waste will be picked up and disposed of by the Environmental Management Office. The total mixed and hazardous waste in a laboratory cannot exceed 55 gallons.

    Mixed waste containers must comply with all the rules for radioactive waste and hazardous waste (e.g., must have a "Hazardous Waste" label, date the container is full, list of the contents, etc.). The Environmental Management Office will provide containers for scintillation vials (30 or 55 gallon drums). Labs generating very few vials may be provided 10-gallon waste receptacles. Containers for bulk liquid mixed waste are not provided. Mixed waste must be segregated into scintillation fluid waste or non-scintillation fluid waste.
    • Scintillation fluids - Segregate scintillation fluids into transuranics and non-transuranics. Normal, flammable cocktail (flash point less than 140_F) and "biodegradable" cocktail should be combined. Use of biodegradable fluid is encouraged, as it minimizes the amount of flammable liquid in the laboratory, but it still must be treated as hazardous. The fluid may be in vials or in bulk form.

      Vial Drums - Proper packaging for vials drums (30 or 55 gallons) is as follows:
      • place a 4-mil clear liner in the drum;
      • pour approximately 4 inches of absorbent material inside the liner;
      • place a second 4 mil clear liner inside the first liner in drum; and
      • fill inner container with vials (caps must be tightly fastened).

      The top must be kept on the drum at all times, except when filling with vials. Leave a few inches of room at the top so that the waste technician may properly close the drum. Note: Do not place absorbent or other waste in with vials. Our waste vendor requires this packaging method. If a smaller container is utilized, follow the above directions.

      Bulk Liquids - Bulk scintillation fluids must be placed into appropriate containers. The recommended containers are 1-gallon glass jars with screw tops. Do not mix bulk scintillation fluid with non-scintillation radioactive waste or with other hazardous fluids.

    • Non-scintillation fluids - The production of this waste is strongly discouraged by the Radiation Safety Office. They are extremely expensive to dispose of and, in some cases, impossible. Some examples of difficult wastes are radioactive materials mixed with any:
      • flammable liquids (e.g., xylene)
      • corrosive liquids (pH less than 2 or greater than 2.5)
      • reactives (e.g., peroxides)
      • toxics (e.g., mercury)

    The Radiation Safety Office and the Environmental Management Office shall be contacted prior to producing any of this type of waste to see if it is banned and, if not, to determine proper handling procedures. Laboratory procedures may have to be altered to render the materials non-hazardous (for example, by neutralizing acids or destroying peroxides).

    • Animals, Animal Excrement and Bedding

      Unless exempt (see below), all animal waste contaminated with radioactivity must be picked up by the Radiation Safety Office, including carcasses, excrement and bedding. Animals must be kept separate from excrement and bedding. The Authorized User should have freezer space to adequately store animals for a minimum of 90 days. If space is not available, contact the Radiation Safety Office prior to generating animal waste.

      Animal waste must be placed in a clear, 4 mil plastic bag prior to pick up by the Radiation Safety Office. Freeze animals in an elongated position to facilitate packing into a drum. Authorized Users are responsible for insuring that the frozen carcasses will fit into 30-gallon drums. Animal waste shall be segregated according to radionuclide half-life and concentration:
      • H-3, C-14, or I-125 in concentrations <=0.05 uCi/gram, averaged over the initial weight of the animal (This material is not regulated as radioactive waste and may be treated as normal animal waste.)
      • half-lives <=120 days or I-125 in concentrations >0.05 uCi/gram
      • half-lives >120 days or H-3 or C-14 in concentrations > 0.05 uCi/gram
      • transuranics


The Radiation Safety Office will provide "Radioactive Waste Receipt" forms to all laboratories. The Authorized User (or designee) must complete all applicable information. Use a separate ticket for each container. Attach carbon copies to the waste container and mail the top copy to the Radiation Safety Office. You may bring the copies to the Radiation Safety Office to avoid the time required for campus mail.

List all constituents of liquid waste, such as xylene, benzene and methanol, and the percent of each. Record a pH measurement on the aqueous portion of any waste. Describe any chemical or biological hazards present in the waste. Mixed waste must follow all procedures required for hazardous waste. The following will help in completing the waste forms:

  1. Dry waste - indicate container size (in gallons) and total activity of each radionuclide.
  2. Aqueous waste (generally carboys) - indicate volume (in gallons) and total activity of each radionuclide.
  3. Liquid scintillation vials - indicate container size (in gallons), approximate number of vials, and total activity of each radionuclide.
  4. Animal/biological - indicate approximate volume, radionuclide(s), and total activity per gram averaged over the initial weight of the animal(s).


Because of safety and regulatory problems, the practice of shared waste containers is strongly discouraged. Use of shared containers requires pre-approval. The Radiation Safety Office can approve shared use upon application and review. Mixed waste (e.g., scintillation vials) will also require approval by Environmental Management. Approval will require one Authorized User to take responsibility for the container and its contents and may be terminated if the specific requirements below are not met.

  • all Authorized Users must be specifically approved for use of the room
  • the room must be posted and locked when unattended
  • each Authorized User is responsible for conducting and documenting at least monthly surveys and wipes of the area (one designated individual may perform this function, but copies must be kept by all Authorized Users involved)
  • waste records must be kept by each Authorized User
  • when the container is full, a radioactive waste ticket must be filled out for each Authorized User

Radiation Safety Manual | Appendix D | Appendix F

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