Radiation Emergency

Radiation Emergency

February 6, 2014

In the case of any emergency with injuries, manage the injury first! The radiation health concerns are secondary to the first-aid of an injured person. A radiation emergency may be any of the following:

  • An over-exposure from a radiation producing machine or from radioactive materials.
  • Personal contamination from radioactive materials.
  • Possible inhalation or ingestion of radioactive materials.
  • A spill of radioactive materials. The Radiation Safety Division is available to assist or advise for minor spills. A major spill is one which occurs in a public or uncontrolled area, or a spill in which you do not have the necessary resources to contain and clean up. A major spill requires Radiation Safety Division involvement, so it must be reported. 

In the instance of a radiation emergency during work hours (Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.) call the Radiation Safety Office at (310) 825-5689.

In the instance of a radiation emergency during off-work hours, please contact the UCLA Police Department at 911 on a campus phone or (310) 825-1491 from a non-campus phone. Indicate that you have a radiation emergency, give the location of the emergency and provide your name and a call-back number.

If there is a spill, utilize the following actions.


  • Stop the spill. Take actions to prevent the further spread of radioactive contamination.
  • Warn others. Report the spill to the numbers listed above. Note contaminated and/or injured personnel. Call UCLA 911 for medical emergencies. Treatment of life-threatening injuries is a priority over spill actions. Document all spill actions.
  • Isolate the spill area. Use physical boundaries if possible. Verify contamination boundaries by scanning with the appropriate radiation detection instrument. Note that some isotopes (Tritium, H-3, for example) cannot be detected using portable instrumentation. A liquid scintillation counter must be used in this case.
  • Minimize your exposure. Wear necessary protective clothing. Avoid contact with the skin. Utilize time, distance and shielding. Avoid ingestion and inhalation of radioactivity.