Safe Use of Radioisotopes

Jill Meisenhelder1, Kentaro Semba2

1 The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, 2 The University of Tokyo, Tokyo
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Microbiology
Unit Number:  Unit 1A.4
DOI:  10.1002/9780471729259.mc01a04s01
Online Posting Date:  June, 2006
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Abstract

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

     
 
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Table of Contents

  • Background Information
  • General Precautions
  • Specific Precautions
  • Dealing with Accidents
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
     
 
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Materials

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Figures

Videos

Literature Cited

Literature Cited
   Board on Radiation Effects (BRER). VIII. 2005. Health risks from exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2.
   2005. Board on Radiation Effects Research (BRER). The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
   Available online at http://www.nap.edu/books/030909156X/html.
   Bursik, S., Meisenhelder, J., and Spahn, G. 1999. Characterization and minimization of extremity doses during 32P metabolic cell labeling. Health Phys. 77:595‐600.
   Meisenhelder, J. and Hunter, T. 1988. Radioactive protein‐labelling techniques. Nature 335:120.
   Shleien, B. (ed.) 1987. Radiation Safety Manual for Users of Radioisotopes in Research and Academic Institutions. Nucleon Lectern Associates, Olney, Md.
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