Hazardous Materials Shipping Update by Christopher Pitoscia

In the time since the release of the last issue of Safety Matters, EH&S has been actively updating existing training modules and developing new tools and resources to assist the Columbia community in meeting the requirements of regulations governing the transportation of dangerous goods such as laboratory chemicals, biological samples and radiological materials. The importance of compliance with these regulations, as well as the scrutiny of hazmat shipments, has never been greater. Recent criminal activity involving the exploitation of the global cargo transit system to ship explosives-laden printer cartridges has placed shippers of all cargo - dangerous cargo shippers especially - under the regulatory microscope.

RASCAL training for the shipment of exempt biological materials and dry ice has now been updated to meet the requirements of the dangerous goods regulations and enhancements to the module for Category B Biological Substances will be completed soon. In addition, by the end of the year, a page of the EH&S website dedicated to hazmat shipping will be available, providing access to flowcharts to assist personnel in determining the appropriate handling of their dangerous goods shipments.

Finally, Columbia personnel are reminded that any person involved in the preparation of hazmat packages must undergo proper training, and trained personnel are urged to be extremely vigilant in properly preparing shipments of dangerous goods. Please visit www.ehs.columbia.edu frequently for updates and announcements, and please do not hesitate to contact EH&S for assistance with hazardous materials shipments.

X-ray Diffraction Machines: Uses and Hazards by George Hamawy

X-ray diffraction machines are used throughout Columbia University. The scattering of x-rays in different directions due to interference effects by matter with accompanying variations in intensity makes these machines a powerful tool in determining the atomic arrangement of matter. Photos of the X-ray diffraction patterns of crystallized DNA by Rosalind Franklin enabled Watson and Crick to make the critical leap that led to their elucidation of the double helix!
The x-rays used most commonly in these machines are of short wave length, known as "soft" x-rays that are readily absorbed in matter. Soft x-rays are easily shielded, however they are very dangerous when absorbed in soft tissues and severe burns can result from exposure of the hands, arms, skin or eyes to the direct or diffracted beams. Because of the potential for harm, all x-ray diffraction machines at Columbia University must have interlock switches and warning lights. Effective shielding must be used, film badges must be worn, and radiation safety training must be completed. These machines are among the items that EH&S is currently inventorying for security and compliance. If you received an email information request (make, model serial number) please respond. For more information please contact EH&S at (212) 305-0303 (CUMC) and (212) 854-4442 (MS).
X-ray Detector

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