Safe Use of Radioisotopes

Jill Meisenhelder1, Steve Bursik1

1 The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Toxicology
Unit Number:  Appendix 1A
DOI:  10.1002/0471140856.txa01as37
Online Posting Date:  August, 2008
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Abstract

The pursuit of scientific knowledge has been considerably advanced by the use of biochemical molecules that incorporate radioisotopes at specific sites. The fate of these labeled molecules, and/or the radiolabeled products that result from biochemical reactions in which the parent molecule was involved, can be traced using a variety of instruments that detect radioactivity. This appendix begins with a discussion of the principles of radioactivity in order to provide the reader/user with knowledge on which to base a common sense approach to the safe use of isotopes. The characteristics of isotopes most commonly used in a molecular biology laboratory are then detailed, as well as the safety precautions and monitoring methods peculiar to each one. Detection and imaging methods used in experimental analysis are reviewed. Finally, an outline of an orderly response to a spill of radioactive material is presented. Curr. Protoc. Toxicol. 37:A.1A.1‐A.1A.18. © 2008 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: radiation safety; radioactivity; isotopes; decay; shielding; monitoring; exposure; dosimeter

     
 
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Background Information
  • Minimizing Exposure
  • General Precautions
  • Specific Precautions
  • Measuring Radioactivity
  • Responding to Spills
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
     
 
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Materials

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Figures

Videos

Literature Cited

   Board on Radiation Effects Research (BRER). 2006. Health risks from exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2. BRER, National Research Council, 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.
   Klein, R., Reginatto, M., Party, E., and Gershey, E. 1990. Practical radiation shielding for biomedical research. Radiat. Prot. Manage. 7:30‐37.
   Lederer, C.M., Hollander, J.M., and Perlman, I. (eds.) 1967. Table of Radioisotopes, 6th ed. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
   Meisenhelder, J. and Hunter, T. 1988. Radioactive protein‐labeling 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.
Internet Resources
   http://web.princeton.edu/sites/ehs
  Princeton University Environmental Health and Safety Web site containing radioisotope fact sheets.
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