Restricted Areas and Shared Laboratory Spaces

Restricted areas are areas to which access is limited by the Licensee to protect individuals from exposure to radiation and radioactive materials (RAM). Restricted areas in shared laboratories usually have designated radiation work areas. These areas are marked by “Caution Radioactive Materials” signs and with radioactive material labels and stickers as shown in the photo below.

Some areas that are commonly shared with RAM users are:

  • Laboratory work bench spaces
  • Cold rooms
  • Equipment rooms
  • Liquid scintillation counting rooms
  • Autoclave rooms

Most isotopes used in research laboratory settings are high and low energy beta and low energy gamma emitters; therefore radiation exposure hazard for laboratory workers is minimal. However, contamination is the primary hazard in RAM research laboratories.

Workers can minimize potential exposures by managing Time, Distance, and Shielding.

  • Minimize your Time spent around the radiation source.
  • Maximize the Distance between you and the source.
  • Use appropriate Shielding as shown in the photo below (plexiglass shielding for high energy beta emitters).

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 10.50.45 AM

Below are steps laboratory workers need to follow while working in a close proximity with RAM users.

  1. Pay attention to marked areas with Radioactive Material Labels. For non-rad users, please contact your Radiation Safety Building Liaison for more information about autoclave rooms with RAM postings.
  2. Before working in RAM marked areas, ensure that you have prior training and authorization.
  3. Avoid removing glassware, pipets, and other equipment and items from RAM marked areas.
  4. Clean spills in RAM marked areas only if you are trained.
  5. Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the isotope you are working with.

Potential Sources of Exposure

Below are common sources of radiation you will find in RAM areas. Handling these items could result in exposure or contamination. Always use Time, Distance, and Shielding to minimize your exposure.


Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 10.52.01 AM

In the Event of Radioactive Material Spill

  1. Notify everyone in the lab of the spill area.
  2. Prevent unauthorized access to the area.
  3. For small spills, refer to your “Just in Time – A Guide to Campus Emergencies” posted in the lab.
  4. For large spills, immediately contact EHSO for assistance at 404-727-5922 to get help with the cleanup


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