Hazardous Materials in Transit – Program Update by Christopher Pitoscia

Each day thousands of shipments of hazardous materials criss-cross the country’s transportation system via road, rail, air and sea and, often in the cargo compartments of passenger transport vehicles.  Most of these “hazmats” are mundane consumer products like perfume, which is flammable,  or dry ice-cooled perishable foods; however, each are highly regulated to protect the health and safety of the handlers and carriers who transport them and the passengers who ride along with them on their journeys.  The conduct of laboratory research and healthcare also often requires transport of hazardous materials, including flammable, corrosive or toxic reagents, radioactive materials, potentially infectious materials and microorganisms, and human-derived samples.  Personnel who perform any function associated with shipping hazmats require training, which includes general familiarization with the regulations, security awareness and hazardous materials safety.  EH&S is actively developing and improving training and resources within the University to address these requirements so that personnel can prepare hazmat packages safely and in compliance with all applicable regulations.  Please visit the EH&S website frequently for updates and contact your Laboratory Safety Officer for further information.

Please note - If you or someone in your laboratory did not attend one of April’s “Transportation of Dangerous Goods” training sessions, you must contact EH&S for assistance prior to shipping any hazardous materials.


Radiation Dose Limits For Individual Members of the Public by George Hamawy

We all are exposed to radiation in our daily life, some natural and some man-made. The mRem is the unit of measurement for radiation exposure; the average normal annual exposure in the United States is 320mRem.  The exposure from a chest x-ray is approximately 10 mRem. The overall exposure to an individual in the general public should not exceed 100 mRem per year beyond background.  Such additional exposures sources can include licensed activities conducted by our facility- such as the use of X-ray producing machines or radioactive materials.

What does that mean? It is not as simple as it seems. Who is considered the public? Where is the exposure coming from? And what is the Radiation Safety Office’s response if someone potentially is going to exceeds this limit?

For patient visitors’ areas where radiation exposure may occur over a short period, the annual limit of 100 mRem of additional exposure applies unless the Radiation Safety Officer justifies an increase to 500 mRem/year for the visitors.  If  it is determined that an employee not working with radiation will still receive more than an additional 100mRem annually, perhaps as a result of proximity to where radioactive materials are used or for frequent visit to a laboratory using radiation sources, the Radiation Safety Officer can give this employee a “radiation worker” status.  The person must then attend a radiation safety training, and as a result of this status the exposure should not exceed 500 mRem/year. If a worker’s exposure has the potential to exceed the 500 mRem/year (5000 mRem is the annual occupational exposure limit), a dosimeter such as a film badge should be issued.

Remember — Please return your Radiation Film Badge in a timely manner !


Editorial Staff: Kathleen Crowley, Chris Pitoscia, Paul Rubock
Graphics, Design, Lay-out: Jean Lee
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