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University of Pittsburgh
Waste

Specific Instruction
for Medical Waste

Medical radioactive waste includes waste generated by nuclear medicine, radiation oncology, and PET.

This waste includes contaminated materials and syringes generated from Nuclear Medicine procedures, unused radioactive seeds from implants in Radiation Oncology as well as sealed sources used for calibration purposes, which are no longer useful.

  • Radioactive waste must be segregated from other waste materials in clearly marked containers. When practical, minimize the amount of radioactive waste generated by surveying items before putting them into waste. If a survey in a low-background area shows no reading distinguishable from background, dispose of as non-radioactive waste. If readings exceed background, dispose of the material as radioactive waste.
  • Sharps ContainersAll needles should be placed into a sharps container for disposal. These containers should be closed securely.
  • If there are items, i.e. shipping boxes, that have been determined through a survey to not be radioactive, obliterate all radioactive material symbols and markings before putting into regular trash can.
  • Do not discard any radioactive material or potentially contaminated items into regular trash cans.
  • Housekeeping should not dispose of radioactive waste. Ensure that waste is secured against unauthorized removal and labeled in such a manner as to deter removal.
  • Radioactive waste is routinely removed by Radiation Safety Office personnel to a central collection location.
  • Radioactive waste generated in the clinical and research PET facilities may be decayed onsite as long as the appropriate records are maintained.
  • Radioactive liquid wastes which are fully soluble or biologically dispersible in water may be discharged directly into the sanitary sewer system via a designated radiation sink drain. Alpha-emitting nuclides are not permitted to be disposed of by this means. Sinks must be appropriately designated and labeled (one sink per laboratory).
    1. Taking care to minimize splashing, pour the liquid waste directly into the drain with the water turned off.
    2. Follow immediately by flushing with copious quantities of water.
    3. Record the disposal on a sink log noting the date, isotope activity, and the initials of the person disposing of the material.
  • Sealed SourcesSealed sources are devices containing radioactive material which are engineered by encapsulation to prevent the distribution of loose material for the life of the device. They include flood sources, dose calibrator vial sources, and sources used for calibration. Disposal of all sealed sources must be coordinated by the Radiation Safety Office.