In addition to receiving radioactive materials, the Nuclear Cardiology department must routinely ship radioactive materials. These shipments include the return of spent and unused patient radiopharmaceutical doses as well as the return of sealed calibration sources. Shipping of radioactive materials is regulated by the DOT under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49CFR).
There are four DOT labels used for shipping radioactive materials (Fig. 2-7). The use of each label is determined by the quantity of material in the package and the radiation exposure at the surface and 1 m from the package.
DOT labels for shipping radioactive packages. From left to right: The Radioactive I "White," Radioactive II "Yellow," Radioactive III "Yellow," and the Excepted Package Limited Quantity.
The most common radioactive package shipped from the Nuclear Cardiology department is the "UN2910—Excepted Package, Limited Quantity." For a package to ship under the specifications of UN2910, the maximum quantity in the package cannot exceed the limits derived from the table in 49CFR173.425. Furthermore, the following criteria must be met:
The surface of the package must not exceed 0.5 mR/hr
A wipe test of the package must not exceed 6600 dpm/300 cm2
The limited quantity package limits for common isotopes derived from 49CFR173.425 are illustrated in Table 2-8. The limits apply to radioactive material in both solid and liquid forms. For packages containing more than one isotope, the lower limit applies to the entire contents of the package.
Table 2-8"Excepted Package Limited Quantity" Limits for Common Isotopes Used in Nuclear Cardiology ||Download (.pdf) Table 2-8 "Excepted Package Limited Quantity" Limits for Common Isotopes Used in Nuclear Cardiology
|Isotope ||Form ||Limit |
|99mTc ||Liquid ||11 mCi |
|201Tl ||Liquid ||11 mCi |
|18F ||Liquid ||1.6 mCi |
|57Co ||Liquid ||27 mCi |
|137Cs ||Liquid ||1.6 mCi |
|68Ge ||Solid ||14 mCi |
A radioactive package that exceeds the excepted package quantities, has a surface exposure of less than 0.5 mR/hr, an exposure at 1 m that is indistinguishable from background, and a wipe test of less than 6600 dpm/300 cm2 receives a Radioactive I "White" label.
A Radioactive II "Yellow" label is used for packages with a surface exposure of 0.5 to 50 mR/hr, a 1 m exposure of less than 1 mR/hr and a wipe test of less than 6600 dpm/300 cm2. The Radioactive II labeled is commonly used when shipping calibration sources back to the vendor for disposal.
Packages with a surface exposure of 50 to 200 mR/hr, a 1 m exposure of less than 10 mR/hr and a wipe test of less than 6600 dpm/300 cm2 must be labeled with a Radioactive III "Yellow" label.
Radioactive labels must be placed onto two sides of the package and packages requiring the Radioactive I, II, or III label must be a classified as a "Type A" shipping container. A "Type A" shipping container is a strong package that has met certain criteria including a water spray test, drop test, compression test, and penetration test. A summary of the radiation exposure limits for each DOT label is illustrated in Table 2-9.
Table 2-9DOT Label Radiation Exposure Limits ||Download (.pdf) Table 2-9 DOT Label Radiation Exposure Limits
|DOT Label ||Surface Exposure (mR/hr) ||1 M Exposure (mR/hr) ||Wipe Test Limit |
|Excepted Package Limited Quantitya ||≤0.5 ||Background ||6600 dpm/300 cm2 |
|White I ||≤0.5 ||Background ||6600 dpm/300 cm2 |
|Yellow II ||> 0.5 ≤50 ||1.0 ||6600 dpm/300 cm2 |
|Yellow III ||>50 ≤200 ||10 ||6600 dpm/300 cm2 |