Safe Use of Radioisotopes
The use of radioisotopes to label specific molecules in a defined way has greatly furthered the discovery and dissection of biochemical pathways. The development of methods to synthesize such tagged biological compounds inexpensively on an industrial scale has enabled them to be used routinely in laboratory protocols, including many detailed in this manual. Although most of these protocols involve the use of only microcurie amounts of radioactivity, some (particularly those describing the metabolic labeling of proteins or nucleic acids within cells) require amounts on the order of millicuries. In all cases where radioisotopes are used, depending on the quantity and nature of the isotope, certain precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of the scientist. It is essential to use good safety practices and proper protection to handle radioactive substances. This unit discusses handling, storage, and disposal of the isotopes most frequently used in biological research.
Keywords: safety; radioisotopes; metabolic labeling; in vitro kinase reactions; Plexiglas shielding
Figure 1A.4.3 Use of Plexiglas dish shields for 32P labels reduces extremity exposure.
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