13.4 - Management Of Unsealed Sources

Management of Unsealed Sources

ALARA is a good principle to stick with.

Safe Handling

  • Always use gloves when handling unsealed sources
  • Wash hands after use
  • Do not eat, drink or apply cosmetics in the hot room
  • Carry sources in shielded containers to limit exposure


Most unsealed sources are beta emitters, although some have significant gamma emission as well. They should be stored within a sealed, shielded vial in a secure safe that attenuates nearly all of the generated radiation (usually 3 - 4 TVLs).


Similar to storage.


If a spill is suspected, staff, patients and the general public should be removed from the vicinity. An area survey should be carried out to detect the presence of spilled radiopharmaceuticals - this is best performed with a GM counter. If detected, the options are to clean the affected area (if the area is required for ongoing treatment) or to leave the area isolated for some time (based on the half life of the radiopharmaceutical) until the dosage levels have dropped.
If cleaning is required, it should be carried out with long handled equipment and protective clothing (to prevent contamination of clothes, skin). Another area survey should be carried out following cleaning to ensure removal of all radioactive material.