I-125 BSA spill...help needed

sunfish s535290 at aix1.uottawa.ca
Sat May 3 10:00:12 EST 1997


Did you carefully read that student's note before your reply ?
I think you were more than unfairly harsh on a student who was seeking
advice because his thesis supervisor appears to not be very concerned
about the safety of the students in his lab.

The key thing to remember is that *THIS STUDENT WAS NOT THE ONE WHO
concerned because the spill was never reported by the person who
spilled the radioactivity...god knows what other things such a careless
student would not report. We have seen instances of some students who
appear to have no concern for others' safety and spread contamination all
over the place endangering the safety of everyone in the lab.

It is these students that have to be taken care of, not those that are
"insubordinate" for reporting such flagrant violations of radioisotope

I do think that the student should have contacted his thesis supervisor,
who should have then handled the affair. I agree that this student's course 
of action was wrong. If the thesis supervisor did not even know the spill
had occurred (a thesis supervisor can't see your every move...) then it is
bad protocol to bypass him/her and go to the radiation officers. Direct
contact with safety officials should not have occurred unless the thesis
supervisor did nothing to rectify the situation. 


> Like it or not, there is a "chain of command" in a lab and your are obliged
> to follow it.  By not reporting it to your advisor (or the senior
> investigator at hand), but to the Health and Safety officer,  and  delaying
> when you informed someone signifies your (and your friend's) inability to
> follow protocol - that makes you both insubordinate.

this chain of command comment is absolute garbage... what are we in the
army now David ???  That is absolutely ludicrous. If somehow a radioactive
spill does not get reported to the radiation officers by a thesis
supervisor, clearly then one has to take matters into one's hands. 

> 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.

I have never worked with 125-I and I don't know if regulations here in
Canada are any different that in the US, but this statement above is so
big brotherish it's spooky...up here we're supposed to report *everything*
and the government agency that monitors radioisotope usage then decides
whether something is worth following up or not...the supervisor *does not*
decide what should or should not be reported...again, this sounds like the
army for chrissakes...we're talking about people's safety here...the spill
should have been reported, plain and simple. Whether there is anything to
be done in response to the spill is a decision made by radiation
officials, *not* the thesis supervisor.

It sounds to me that if anyone is at fault here, aside from the guy who
spilled the stuff, it's the thesis supervisor *and* the radiation
officials. First off, no students in a lab should be left *uninformed* as
far as any hazardous chemicals being used in the lab. *Everyone* should
know what is being done and whether or not there are any hazards or not.
If I work in a lab and someone is using 125-I without a shield, I want to
know and I want to have the *right* to ask any radiation officers whether
this is safe or not. I think any grad student has the right to question
the "safety" of a lab procedure. The soothing calming voice of a
thesis supervisor saying that "it's ok" is not nearly enough. Any such
concerns should be raised with radiation officials and they can provide
the necessary information.  From the fact that this student doesn't know
the risks of the 125-I that is being used in the lab, it seems that their
radiation training is not all that great. If this is the case, then the
radiation officials are at fault.

> >Well, I am concerned about my safety and the others.  I don't want to work
> >there if that grad student is still working with that I-125 BSA out in the
> >open lab.  Next Wednesday, the whole lab will have to attend a
> >Radioactivity Safety Seminar.
> Good.  It sounds like it is needed and both of you need  to review the
> proper handling and shielding required for 125-I.


> THE main problem in using 125-I is being exposed to free Na-I.  This should
> only be done in a hood certified for such use. You should know before doing
> any experiments what the target organ is for idodine (you can look it up).
> If handled properly, 125-I is safe.  Its radiation is penetrating, and
> lead is the preferred shielding medium.   Your advisor is correct: if
> properly removed from free 125-I, the idoinated BSA prep would be
> "relatively" safe to use on the bench in small trace amounts, presuming YOU
> were taking appropriate precautions (no eating, drinking, wearing a LAB
> COAT, and gloves are ALWAYS used).  Knowing the method of iodination, you
> should know your iodinating efficiency so that you would have some idea as
> to how much of that 1.0 mCi is bound - you should the specific activity of
> your reagent before you start an experiement...

ummm...since this student isn't actually using the 125-I and that it
appears a very negligent student is the one using it, we have a problem.
Your answer to this problem is a little bizarre...wear a bulletproof vest,
then getting shot at will not be a problem...seems to me like the problem
is the person doing the shooting, dontcha think ?

> >Radioactivity Safety Officer as many questions as possible.  For those of
> >you who know much about I-125, please post any advice on the newsgroup. 
> >If the thesis advisor does kick me out, I want to bring up charges if
> >necessary.  Thank you.
> Some modicum of common sense is required for handling of isotopes.  Your
> note "rings" of a complete lack of knowledge, or care, with regard to the
> use of isotopes.  
> You probably don't need to be terminated from the lab, but a probationary
> period is definately in order.  You need to learn to take responsibility
> for yourselves and your actions, learn what is needed to do the job at
> hand, and demonstrate some level of common sense.   You also need to decide
> if a research lab is where you really want to be.  Based solely on your
> note, you don't have a case.

aside from the incredibly denigrating tone of your response (questioning
this student's integrity - what fucking cojones - your attitude is
absolutely infuriating !!!!), it appears to me that from the tone of this
concerned student, that he/she actually cares about radiation safety, and
that he/she has a healthy respect for it and wants to know a little more
about any possible health hazards...seems like a normal thing for most of 
us that don't want to sprout a third arm... What appears to be lacking
here is some training and some hard answers to calm any fears. Seems to me
like the sort of stuff that would be learned through radiation training.

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