I-125 BSA spill...help needed

Eric Anderson e-anderson at ski.mskcc.org
Sat May 3 15:04:09 EST 1997

In article < at imm2.imm.uth.tmc.edu>,
dhavilan at IMM2.IMM.UTH.TMC.EDU ("David L. Haviland, Ph.D.") wrote:

> At 21:14 5/1/97 GMT, ZOOMmmm wrote:
> I'll step up to the plate on this and take a crack at it...  you won't like
> the answer...
> Fair warning:  within my institute, I am the "safety officer" and as such
> have had to familiarize myself with protocols.  In addition, through my
> travels, I have had to know and follow the protocols from my previous 4
> institutes...
> >Hi.  I'm a graduate student who found out that another graduate student in
> >our lab accidently squirted approximately 5 microliters of I-125 BSA for
> >an ubiquitin assay (PAGE/autoradiography) on his arm.  I'm not sure, but I
> >think he was using 1.0m Ci or less.  The problem is that it happened 2
> >weeks ago.  Yesterday, i finally told the Health/Safety officer that grad.
> >student spilled it and he didn't report it to anyone.  The Health/Safety
> >officer told our thesis advisor and the thesis advisor got pissed at me
> >and we had a yelling match.  The thesis advisor kinda threaten to kick me
> >out of the lab for telling the Health/Safety officer about the spill.  The
> >thesis advisor also said that the I-125 BSA is relatively safe to work out
> >on the lab bench in the open lab where there are at least 6 students
> >working.  He told me that the radioactivity is so low since I-125 is bound
> >to BSA.
> Both of you blew it big time...
> The FIRST big mistake was not reporting it to your thesis advisor
> IMMEDIATELY the very day it had happened.  The SECOND mistake was waiting.
> To have waited any amount of time in reporting this incident was nothing
> short of negligence.  Your thesis advisor ( or most senior researcher) is
> the person to decide whether or not to call Health & Safety, not you.  The
> only time where lab personnel would call the campus officer would be if the
> PI has had or demonstrates a history of ignoring regulations - and in that
> case, discipline and enforcement would be up to the collective faculty.

<snip...a huge chunk of excellent information that i think that everyone
using isotope should read.>

however, i take issue with the advice that only the PI/Senior Researcher
should be the one to report a spill to the institutional "authorities." 
the very first thing that our Radiation Safety Emergency Procedures poster
states (in all caps and boldface no less) is, "ALL INCIDENTS MUST BE
it say that only the lab head should contact them, or even the lab member
in charge of radiation safety.

i agree that mr. or ms. "ZOOMmmm" and his/her colleagues really screwed up
by waiting to report the incident but i don't think that chain of command
is the issue here.  in fact, i know of a lab at a nearby institution where
a grad student (a friend of mine) was forced to leave the lab because she
reported the PI mandated practice of mouth pipetting 32-P to the radiation
safety officer at the institution.  (institutional review bore out the
complaint as true and the PI was censured.)

my point is only that when an accident occurs involving radioactivity, the
person(s) involved should immediately report it to the radiation safety
officials at the institution for both help in clean up and for biological

just my 2 cents,


More information about the Methods mailing list