PULLMAN, Wash. — A crew from Washington State University’s Radiation Safety Office has successfully cleaned small spots of a radioactive material found on a university research laboratory floor.
Len Porter, RSO director, said the material, sodium 22, a radionuclide being used in a physics research laboratory, was discovered during a regular meter survey of the lab located in the Engineering Teaching/Research Lab. It was found Thursday (Jan. 31) when a sealed source container was moved.
Crews continued cleaning the laboratory on Friday. They also have been surveying the public areas near the lab for signs of the radioactive material. Five small spots of the substance also were found near the lab entrance and were immediately cleaned.
One staff member had a small amount of the material – about 0.5 centimeter wide – on the inside of one knuckle. He was evaluated by a physician who said the exposure was low enough to require only washing and waiting for natural sloughing of skin. One jacket in the lab also was found to have a small amount of the material on its zipper, and is being cleaned.
Staff and others who had access to the lab are being checked to see if any of the material was carried out of the lab on their shoes and clothing.
“We have found no further presence of the material beyond the lab area,” Porter said. “We have followed all of the routine procedures for such a situation, and are meeting with those who have contact with the room to assure them there is little reason to be worried about exposure to the material. There is no danger to the general public.”
Porter says it will be Wednesday or Thursday before a final report will be filed. He expects the lab to be back in use when the RSO crew has completed cleaning, followed by a thorough survey of the room and its contents.