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Elite Engineer

Accidentally exposed to radiation..I think.

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So a new guy was hired at my work, and him and I get to talking. Turns out he went to the same school as me and graduated a few years before me. So, we start talking about the places we'd study in school. I mentioned the 5th floor of a building that had vacant labs, that were COMPLETELY cleaned out (i.e. no test tubes, empty drawers, fume hoods completely off, no running water). Naturally I saw this as a perfect study spot as it was all empty. I checked for anything that might be harmful at first, and concluded it was safe. All in all I spent probably about 30 hrs a week on the floor, for about 2 years. I know for a fact I was NOT the only student to use these rooms, as I'd occasionally try to open the door and it'd be locked with the lights on..someone was using it too.

 

When I told him this, he laughed nervously and said "you know those rooms did research using radioisotopes right?" I immediately got really tense and uncomfortable. He mentioned it was for radiopharmacology research. So my question here is: What radioisotopes are used in pharmacy research? Are they generally benign or deadly? The rooms were COMPLETELY empty. Nothing in there period. Could there be enough residual material still there to cause issues?

 

Also, he mentioned the pharmacy department was moved to a different campus, and that the time I started using the rooms was roughly a 1-2 years after they moved.

 

Should I contact the college? I'm very confused and a little scared to be honest.

~EE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like a lie to be honest your school would have informed you if the building was dangerous at the time.

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Assuming they followed the rules, if there was any measurable residual contamination there should have been signs warning you that it was a radiation area. You probably shouldn't have been able to get in if it was.

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Probably fine but which hall were you in?

Edited by Endy0816

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That's worrying of course, but in all likelihood the people who manipulated those materials took care not to spill any stuff on the floor, in their own interest. Medical radio isotopes are meant for use inside the body of patients, it's not comparable to plutonium or so. In particular, their half life is very short so that even if they spilled some of that, it's very unlikely that any harmful radiation was left when you came there.

This link may be useful: http://hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/brgtherap/activit/fs-fi/isotopes-med-faq-eng.php

 

edit: one more link that confirms that we are talking about the same thing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiopharmacology

Edited by Tim88

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Are you starting to turn green when you get angry ?

Or maybe get tingly sensations when something is about to happen, crawl up walls and swing from webs?

 

But seriously, when I was in University, a small piece of radioactive material went missing. There were signs up all over the place suggesting that whoever took it should return it, as it was dangerous.

And "Don't keep it in your pocket".

Edited by MigL

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My brother works for a company that ships in diagnostic radio-pharmaceuticals from Europe to the US. When a volcano in Iceland erupted in 2010 it disrupted air service which meant that the jets required a longer route to the US. During this period of disruption, his company had to stop shipments as the half life of the radio-pharmaceuticals was so short that the delay rendered them ineffective.

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My brother works for a company that ships in diagnostic radio-pharmaceuticals from Europe to the US. When a volcano in Iceland erupted in 2010 it disrupted air service which meant that the jets required a longer route to the US. During this period of disruption, his company had to stop shipments as the half life of the radio-pharmaceuticals was so short that the delay rendered them ineffective.

Should not they rethink their business model, and start producing it near North America.. ?

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Should not they rethink their business model, and start producing it near North America.. ?

His company does not produce it at all. It is made by a company in the Netherlands. No one in the US makes it.

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Should not they rethink their business model, and start producing it near North America.. ?

Then you have the same issue in reverse, for all of your customers in Europe.

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Then you have the same issue in reverse, for all of your customers in Europe.

No.

Europe producer will be still producing for customers in Europe.

And US branch of their company will be producing for customers in America.

To not have lost during intercontinental flights.

You thought about shutting down Europe producer, after opening US branch.. ?

Edited by Sensei

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No.

Europe producer will be still producing for customers in Europe.

And US branch of their company will be producing for customers in America.

To not have lost during intercontinental flights.

You thought about shutting down Europe producer, after opening US branch.. ?

 

 

And all you have to do is build a nuclear reactor and/or cyclotron to carry out this plan. Which is probably the flaw in the business model.

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And all you have to do is build a nuclear reactor and/or cyclotron to carry out this plan. Which is probably the flaw in the business model.

Agreed. How often do you really need to deal with something like a volcano?

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Agreed. How often do you really need to deal with something like a volcano?

If volcano is causing radioactive isotope (nuclear isomer?) to be useless after flight from Spain, through Atlantic to USA, the same can be said about any flight to South America.

Then I suppose so the entire South America also is rejected from usage of this diagnostic-radioisotope?

If US don't make it, then 3rd world countries even more less likely.. ?

 

And all you have to do is build a nuclear reactor and/or cyclotron to carry out this plan. Which is probably the flaw in the business model.

You're looking at this from money point of view, while I am looking at this from helping ill people point of view.

Don't South Americans need it?

Edited by Sensei

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You're looking at this from money point of view, while I am looking at this from helping ill people point of view.

 

 

You're the one who said business model first. I think that implies you're looking at profits.

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If volcano is causing radioactive isotope (nuclear isomer?) to be useless after flight from Spain, through Atlantic and Canary Islands to USA, the same can be said about any flight to South America.

Then I suppose so the entire South America also is rejected from usage of this diagnostic-radioisotope?

If US don't make it, then 3rd world countries even more less likely.. ?

 

 

You're looking at this from money point of view, while I am looking at this from helping ill people point of view.

Don't South Americans need it?

We are clearly drifting quite far from the OP. The reason I mentioned this is that the OP was concerned about radio-pharmaceutical contamination in a lab and if that exposed him to dangers. I was just pointing out that the half life for these type uses is typically quite short, which is to be expected as it is being injected into the body.

 

In my brother's case, these are used for diagnostics and delaying a test is not necessarily the same thing as delaying treatment.

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You're the one who said business model first. I think that implies you're looking at profits.

Not at all.

There are eternal profits and terrestrial profits.

If there would be opened US branch of company (not to mention South American branch), it would allow helping people in South America (because shorter distance of flight than from Europe).

Which would open completely new market, wouldn't it?

You don't know who you're helping.

Suppose so some grand-grand father/mother of Einstein-to-be, Pasteur-to-be (or other fruitful scientist) in the next centuries, is poor and ill, can't pay for treatment,

you can save entire human race, by helping his/her ancestors.

 

In business it's called taking "long position"

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/long.asp

That's it, you don't bother about short-term profits, but looking at long-term results.

If somebody "monopolize" market in 3rd world country.. when they're poor.. Ignoring that this market is giving little or none return at the moment, could win in the future, when they will get richer.

 

 

We are clearly drifting quite far from the OP. The reason I mentioned this is that the OP was concerned about radio-pharmaceutical contamination in a lab and if that exposed him to dangers.

 

Since the beginning of this thread we had too little data, to guarantee useful help in his case..

Starting from whether his colleague joked or not joked.

(He should search for plans of his school. Timetables. They mention which class is used in what purpose).

 

If he is really bothered, he should take Geiger counter and go to his old university room and see what device will show..

 

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Building a nuclear reactor in the US at the moment is probably almost impossible politically.

 

This "Should not they rethink their business model, and start producing it near North America.. ? " makes no sense because- unless there's a volcano going off, Europe is "near North America "- it's just a few hours on a plane.

 

Meanwhile, back at the topic...

 

The bulk of radioisotope work is done with radioactive tracers.

The radiation- even in the test animal used in the experiment- has to be small enough not to affect the animal's health because that would invalidate the research.

 

So these radioactive things are not generally very radioactive (there are exceptions but...)

They try to avoid spilling them.

There are laws (and associated lawyers) related to cleaning up radiation workplaces + restoring them to normal use.

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What I failed to mention (and I left out for public shaming) was there was a sign on the door, that said the room was used for radiopharmaceutical research. There were no signs saying "DO NOT ENTER", no "WARNING". I imagine it was for when the school was going to reoccupy the floor for general info on the room. My co-worker definitely did not lie about research on that floor. I just assumed that since there were no warning signs, and the doors were unlocked that it was ok. I only got concerned when he looked surprised when I told him I studied there.

 

 

I do recall one time there was construction on a floor that had absestos exposed from the walls. They decorated the halls, entrances and exits of that building with signs to inform everyone not to go to that floor


My brother works for a company that ships in diagnostic radio-pharmaceuticals from Europe to the US. When a volcano in Iceland erupted in 2010 it disrupted air service which meant that the jets required a longer route to the US. During this period of disruption, his company had to stop shipments as the half life of the radio-pharmaceuticals was so short that the delay rendered them ineffective.

This information is very helpful. I figured most isotopes used in medicine have very short half-lives, I just had to hear it from someone else.


I've attached a list of medical radioisotopes with half-lives in brackets. With the exception of the cobalts, they are pretty short.

 

attachicon.gifList of Medical Radioisotopes.pdf

Wow thank you!


Probably fine but which hall were you in?

 

you know my college?

Edited by Elite Engineer

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If there had been any residual background radiation that exceeded prescribed guidlines at the time you were staying there it would have been clearly marked as such and access made more difficult than it was, I would have thought, especially with it being part of a college as well.

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you know my college?

 

I know all things ;)

 

No, I'm only hazarding a guess based on your profile information and what you've provided us here.

 

Most even possibly contaminated areas end up being listed online as part of FUSRAP, Superfund, etc.

 

WSJ's FUSRAP based page for example:

 

http://projects.wsj.com/waste-lands

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I know all things ;)

 

No, I'm only hazarding a guess based on your profile information and what you've provided us here.

 

Most even possibly contaminated areas end up being listed online as part of FUSRAP, Superfund, etc.

 

WSJ's FUSRAP based page for example:

 

http://projects.wsj.com/waste-lands

All I'll say is I went to a research university in Western New York state.

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Probably fine then, most of the University sites in NY are in/around New York City itself.

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As a former researcher who labelled proteins with 125-I IIRC, only an idiot would leave any residual radio-isotope behind after a procedure. Normally the room would be clearly marked and a lead-lined area used with lab bench lining in case of accidental drops of isotope. A Geiger Muller counter was always pointed at the area of use as an additional warning and a biohazards/radioactive bin nearby for disposables. Following use, the material was encased in a lead container and the bench wiped down with an industrial detergent. The bench lining/coat (like a plastic coated paper) would then be removed and disposed off in a biohazard/radiation bag and the area monitored with the GM counter following the procedure.

 

These, in my opinion, are normal precautions. I never entered a room which had contaminants from a previous researcher. We were aware of safety considerations for others.

 

As StringyJ has mentioned, all non-nuclear industry isotopes have a short half life. You were probably safer to work there than a bacterially and virally contaminated library. Ain't it ironic?

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