Answer to Question #3753 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
What is the proper cleanup when a tritium-powered exit sign has been broken? What precautions should be observed while handling the broken sign? How should one dispose of the broken sign?
We note that your email address domain is that of a manufacturer/distributor of such signs. You should determine if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or state license that authorizes the distribution of these signs contains requirements for content of the guidance you requested and, if so, you should follow them. If such guidance has not been incorporated into the license, it would be prudent to ask the licensing agency if it wishes to review it.
Absent such requirements, the following guidance is suggested for use by a member of the public involved in breakage of a tritium sign. It is not intended to cover breakage of such devices within a licensed facility where the use and possession of the sign is covered by a specific license.
It reflects good health physics practice to take into account the potential radiation hazard from the tritium and the manner in which it is incorporated into the sign based on a guide prepared by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for dealing with broken exit signs containing tritium. When a tritium exit sign is broken, precautions should be taken to reduce the possible radiation dose to an individual residing in the area where the incident occurred as well as individuals assigned for cleanup.
When an Exit Sign Containing Tritium (3H) Is Damaged (broken with the release of 3H):
The protective clothing required for cleanup usually consists of gloves and booties. The broken sign should be placed in an air-tight container by a health physics consultant. If silica gel is available it should be placed in the container with the broken sign. The silica gel will collect tritiated water. At a minimum, the broken sign and any miscellaneous pieces should be double bagged and sealed in plastic. Disposal of the broken sign should be arranged through the manufacturer or a health physics consultant. A list of manufacturers who may be contacted for disposal of a tritium sign (or any other tritium-containing device) is on the New Jersey Radiation Control Program website.
Answer posted on 26 May 2004. The information and material posted on this website is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may alter the concepts and applications of materials and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice specific to whatever facts and circumstances are presented in any given situation. Answers are correct at the time they are posted on the Website. Be advised that over time, some requirements could change, new data could be made available, or Internet links could change. For answers that have been posted for several months or longer, please check the current status of the posted information prior to using the responses for specific applications.
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