Radioactive Waste Disposal Instructions

Anything bearing a radiation symbol should be considered to contain or be contaminated with radioactive materials until proven otherwise - including cardboard boxes, furniture, doors, and equipment.

Radiation Symbol

Examples of items that are disposed of as Radiological Waste:

  • Anything labeled with a radiation symbol (including Lead Items)
  • Anything that has come into contact with radioisotopes (e.g., P-32, S-35, C-14, H-3, Rb-86, I-125, or others)
  • Uranium compounds like Uranyl Acetate or Uranyl Nitrate
  • Mixed-waste (i.e., material containing both a hazardous chemical and a radiological hazard) 

Preparation of Waste for Disposal:

All waste should be segregated by radioisotope and by type (solids, liquids, liquid scintillation fluid, animal carcases, etc.) as instructed in the Radiation Safety Manual.  Containers should be securely closed (tape bags and boxes closed, but do not use radiation-labelling tape to do so, normal plastic or paper tape is sufficient.  Bottle lids should be finger tight.  Containers must not be contaminated on the outside!

Radioactive waste containing isotopes having a half-life of less than 90 days (like P-32, S-35, and P-33) will be held by EHS for at least 10 half-lives and then EHS spreads it out on a table and hand-surveys it. If it is determined to be non-radioactive, it is then disposed of in general trash. Due to the fact that the waste will require a lot of handling by EHS during this survey (while spreading it out, searching and removing radioactive labels, surveying etc.), it is very important that this type of waste does not contain unprotected razor blades, uncapped needles, or other sharps which might injure EHS personnel during the surveying.

Radioactive waste containing isotopes having a half-life of greater than 90 days (like H-3 or C-14) is disposed of through a radioactive waste vendor.

Method of Disposal:

The EHS office will dispose of any potentially radioactive materials or anything labeled as radioactive. Email a request to indicating what materials need to be picked up, the name of the radiation permit holder, and where the items are located.

Indicate the types of containers need to be picked up (number of boxes of dry solid waste, bottles of liquid waste, liquid scintillation vials, etc.) and instructions on what types and numbers of replacement waste containers you need.

You will be sent an inventory form to list the activity amounts for each type of waste. In order to keep an accurate inventory, the waste activity amounts should not be decay corrected, but should reflect the activity at the date the material was assayed by the vendor.

If you have never filled out this form, EHS will assist you with this when they arrive for the pick-up. EHS will call or email to coordinate a time that EHS can come to pick up the waste.

Last modified: Dec 01, 2016