Radiation Safety

Radioactive Materials / X-Rays in Animals


As noted in the introduction, each of the standardized protocols for animal care is designated by a color-coded cage card. Selection of the appropriate protocol (and hence the appropriate cage card) is essential to ensuring the safe handling of animals containing radioactive material. In order of increasing radiological risk, the color codes used are as follows:


These colors were chosen to assist animal care takers coming in contact with the caged animals as to the level of hazard they might encounter.

  • GREEN - "GO AHEAD" represents to the caretaker the amount of radioactive material excreted is minimal and all waste/bedding can be treated as non-radioactive material.
  • YELLOW - "CAUTION" represents to the caretaker that caution should be used because the animal and all waste/bedding are radioactive.
  • RED - "STOP" warns the ULAM caretaker not to proceed until they have contacted their ULAM Area Supervisor for further instruction.

Instructions for completing cage cards, can be found here.

Safety Rules

In order to minimize and protect personnel against inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of radionuclides, the following rules must be observed:

  • Eating, drinking, smoking, food preparation, food storage, and application of cosmetics shall not be permitted in laboratories or facilities where radioactive materials are used or stored.
  • Storage of food and beverages is not permitted in the same storage location (refrigerator, freezer, etc) as radioactive materials.
  • Protective gloves shall be worn when handling radioactive material.
  • Protective clothing (lab coats, cover-gowns, etc.) shall be worn when handling radioactive material. Protective garments should be left in the laboratory when work is completed or until monitored and found free on contamination.
  • Protective dust masks shall be worn when handling radioactive animal bedding.
  • Personnel shall not be permitted to work with radioactive material if there are open cuts or abrasions on the body (e.g., finger, hands, or arms).
  • Monitoring of hands, feet, and clothing is recommended when working with radioactive material and is required when handling large activities (>100 ┬ÁCi) of radioactive material.
  • Color-card animal care protocols shall be followed for animals containing radioactive material. All questions regarding color-card protocols should be addressed by the ULAM Area Supervisor.