Sr89 Spill

In relation to administering an injection of Sr-89, how would you manage a spill of Sr-89 during its administration to a patient?

(examination question RANZCR May 2008)

There are several general things that need to be done, such as:

  • notify the Radiation Safety Officer
  • have a radiation meter such as a Geiger-Muller counter avaialble
  • have appropriate signage
  • maintain your mantra of time, distance, shielding

BUT remember that Sr89 is a water soluble $\beta$-emitter dissolved in liquid form which has no effect except by being absorbed or lying on the skin, and any separation of >2cm is protective, so here are the specific things you should do (and why!):

  1. cover the spill
    1. Sr89 is a liquid, STOP IT FLOWING (DISTANCE)
    2. use a plastic backed absorbent sheet, SO THAT YOU CAN WALK ACROSS IT IF NEED BE
  2. wash any contamination off the patient and yourself
    1. Sr89 is a liquid which won't be absorbed through your skin, GET IT OFF (DISTANCE)
  3. isolate the spill area
    1. seal the area after cleaned personnel have been removed, LET THE AREA 'COOL' (TIME)
    2. Sr89 has a short half-life, so you can afford to leave the stuff decay
  4. clean the spill area with a long handle mop
    1. Sr89 is a beta emitter and so the aim is to clean up without contact, KEEP AWAY FROM THE HOT STUFF (DISTANCE)
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