Use of Radioactive Materials in Animals

The use of radioactive material in animals requires protocol approval from the IACUC and observance of the following Radiation Safety Office guidelines.

If the study is an acute study, the IACUC may allow it to be performed in the research laboratory. It is the responsibility of the Authorized User to make certain his or her associates and employees understand and exercise the necessary safety precautions, handling procedures, clean-up responsibilities, and waste-disposal methods.

If the study requires use of radiolabeled animals in institutionally managed facilities, then the responsibility for animal care may be shared between the investigator and animal facility personnel. This division of responsibility must be developed cooperatively, before the study begins.

The following are some guidelines for the use of radioactive materials in animals:

  1. The administration of radioactive materials to/into animals and the subsequent dissection of those animals should be performed in trays lined with absorbent padding.
  2. Cages that house animals containing radioactive materials should be labeled with the name of the radionuclide, activity per animal, date of administration, and Authorized User's name.
  3. Volatile and readily dispersible radioactive material should be administered in a fume hood. Subsequent work with the animal may also be best handled within the fume hood.
  4. Animal carcasses and tissues containing radioactive material should be placed in a yellow plastic bag. Do not include any other materials such as pads, tubing, needles, instruments, etc., with the carcass. The bags can then be taken to a radioactive waste storage area during scheduled hours or by special arrangement. Radioactive animals and tissues should be kept refrigerated or frozen before delivery to RSO personnel.
  5. Animal excreta may be disposed of through the sanitary sewer in accordance with the applicable limits for liquid waste (30 uCi/day).
  6. Any material returned to the institutional animal care facility, such as cages, must be decontaminated prior to return.