Hand contamination and overexposure of workers at a nuclear medical facility

Print View Posted on: 19 September 2019

Event Date: 31 March 2019 Event Type: Radioisotope Processing/Handling Facility
Event Location: United Kingdom, PET Scanning Facility, UK INES Rating: 2 (Final)

During the dispensing of Flourine-18 vials for medical purposes two operators received radioactive contamination to their hands. The incident occurred in a radiopharmacy associated with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanning facility. The presence of Flourine-18 on the hands of two operators was noticed approximately 10 minutes after the dispensing operations had been completed.

The operators were only able to give limited information on the contamination levels on the skin as monitoring and decontamination times were not recorded during the incident. Dose estimates have been made using assumptions that were judged as conservative based on operator recollection and a spillage of 0.05 ml of Fluorine-18. The operators observed the contaminated areas for several days post exposure and did not report any skin erythema (skin reaction).

Based on the available information the best estimated equivalent doses to the skin of the hands were as follows:
Operator 1: 2,000 mSv
Operator 2: 2,000 mSv

The annual dose limit in the UK for extremities and skin is 500 mSv according to the relevant legislation. The circumstances surrounding this event are being further considered by the Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain.

INES Rating: 2 - Incident (Final) as per 02 September 2019
Release beyond authorized limits? No
Overexposure of a member of the public? No
Overexposure of a worker? Yes

Contamination spread within the facility? No
Damage to radiological barriers (incl. fuel damage) within the facility? No

Degradation of Defence In-Depth No

Person injured physically or casualty? No
Is there a continuing problem? No

James Francis
Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)

Site Sponsors
Site Sponsors: IAEA, NEA and WANO
This site is hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and co-sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD/NEA) and World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
This site is hosted by the IAEA, however, event reports are filed and updated by authorities in participating countries, which remain responsible for all related content. Read more >