HadTown USA
Radioactive  Materials  in  School


Laboratories


Radioactive materials are brought into the classroom to spark the interest of future nuclear engineers, health
physicists, geologists, doctors, and emergency responders. Chemistry, physics and earth science labs are just a
few examples of where radioactive sources may be found in schools.

When radioactive materials are used in education, the schools are responsible for protecting the health and
wellbeing of their students. In grade  schools the materials that are brought in are usually naturally-occurring
and in such small quantity that they are not regulated. The colleges and universities that handle high quantities
of regulated materials are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or an NRC Agreement
State, which is a state that has been granted authority by NRC to regulate the radioactive material in their
state. If handled properly, the educational benefits of learning with radioactive material outweigh any risk.

In grade schools, the problems with radioactive sources come when school staff and administration are
unaware that the sources are in their schools.
There are two main issues:

    Teacher Turnover - As teachers leave their schools, they may leave radioactive materials behind in
    storage cabinets. Many times these containers are not labeled correctly and sometime are not sealed.

    Unknown Sources - A great deal of radiation comes from the ground and is natural in the soil and rocks.
    Rock collections may be radioactive without anyone's knowledge. When they are displayed, passersby
    may be exposed to potentially harmful amounts of radiation.


Who is protecting you

The States

Many states have  signed formal agreements with NRC, delegating to the states regulatory authority over the
licensing of colleges and universities to use radioactive materials for research. States with this agreement with
NRC are called Agreement States.

Several states have started programs to work with grade schools to locate and remove unwanted radioactive
material. These programs are normally located in the state's emergency management agency or radiation
control program.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Some states have not signed formal agreements with NRC. Within these states, NRC retains regulatory
authority over the licensing of colleges and universities to use radioactive materials for research.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency  |   Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608J)
                                                                   EPA 402-F-07-011
                                                                                   June 2007
                                                               www. epa.gov/radtown/lab_materials. html

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 RadTown  USA
What you can do to protect yourself

If you are going to use radioactive materials in your schools, always put the safety of your students first.
Cleanliness is of utmost importance when having students handle radioactive material.

To locate and dispose of radioactive materials in schools:

   Contact your state radiation control program: Your state radiation control program will be able to tell
    you if your state has a program in place to help you locate and dispose of unwanted radioactive materials
    in your school. If your state does  not have a disposal program, your state radiation control program can
    provide guidance on what to do and where to get help.

   Survey the science department  staff: Ask if they have any knowledge of radioactive materials used in
    the school or of unmark containers in storage areas.

   Review the equipment inventory for indicators which suggest that radioactive materials may be
    present at the school: The presences of radiation detection equipment, like Geiger counters, is an
    indication that radioactive material may still be present in the school.
   Review your chemical inventory for common radioactive materials: Look for containers properly
    labeled containers identifying radioactive material.

   Conduct a screening survey of the science department to locate unidentified radioactive materials:
    Use a radiological screening device to attempt to identify and locate radioactive materials present in the
    school. Expert assistance in conducting this type of review may be obtained from a local hospital, a local
    hazardous materials response team, utilities, and state  public health agencies.


Resources

You can explore this radiation source further through the resources at the following URL:
http://www.epa.gov/radtown/lab materials.htm#resources

We provide these resources on-line rather than here so we  can keep the links up-to-date.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608J)  |   EPA 402-F-07-011
                                                                                          June 2007
                                                                     www. epa.gov/radtown/lab_materials. html

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