United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Applicability of 10 CFR 20.303 (d) to Disposable Diapers Contaminated with T c-99m.

HPPOS-034 PDR-9111210157

Title: Applicability of 10 CFR 20.303 (d) to Disposable

Diapers Contaminated with Tc-99m.

See the memorandum from J. R. Mapes to J. R. Metzger dated

January 6, 1979, the memorandum from J. R. Metzer to A. B.

Davis dated January 18, 1979, and the incoming request of

A. B. Davis dated December 13, 1978. It is an OELD opinion

that the exemption in 10 CFR Part 20.303 (d) for excreta

applies only to excreta discharged to a sanitary sewer and

does not apply to excreta remaining on disposable diapers

placed in trash cans or disposed of otherwise. The health

physics position was written in the context of 10 CFR

20.301 and 20.303, but it also applies to the "new" 10 CFR

Part 20, Sections 20.2001 and 20.2003.

During a Region III inspection of a children's hospital, an

inspector found an infant's disposable diaper contaminated

with Tc-99m in a trash can that was not labeled to indicate

the presence of radioactive material and that in fact was a

normal cold trash can. The hospital had given diagnostic

doses of Tc-99m to infants. Diapers soiled with feces were

rinsed in the toilet and then placed in the cold trash

(i.e., non-radioactive trash).

In response to citations for failure to survey diapers

prior to disposal, and disposal of radioactive material by

a means not authorized by 10 CFR 20.301 [or 10 CFR

20.2001], the licensee stated they called several

children's hospitals across the country and determined that

they all use the same method of diaper handling. They also

point out that 10 CFR 20.303 (d) [or 10 CFR 20.2003 (b)]

states that "excreta from individuals undergoing medical

diagnosis or therapy with radioactive material shall be

exempt from any limitations contained in this section," and

that this should exempt their diapers.

Region I was contacted and they stated that they have never

looked into diaper disposal at medical institutions.

Several HPs in both Regions I and III who have worked at

medical institutions have stated that persons receiving

diagnostic doses of radioactive material are not considered

radioactive and are not segregated from other patients and

no special handling is given to their bed clothes, bed

pans, or excreta. Special handling is reserved for

patients under therapy.

Diapers from both children and excreta from incontinent

adults undergoing nuclear diagnosis would be considered not

radioactive. On the other hand, 10 CFR 20.303 [or 10 CFR

20.2003] addresses disposal by release into the sanitary

sewer. The exception in 10 CFR 20.303 (d) [or 10 CFR

20.2003 (b)] applies to excreta that enters the sewer where

it is held and diluted before release to an unrestricted

area. The citation was not for the feces washed into the

sewer but for material remaining on the diapers in normal

cold trash that was disposed of by normal trash methods.

There appears to be no exemption for material excreted and

not disposed via the sanitary sewer.

The OELD opinion agrees with the Region III opinion (i.e.,

diapers are not exempt from the requirements of 10 CFR

20.303 [or 10 CFR 20.2003] because they contain excreta

residue, and therefore, must be labeled as contaminated

waste). The exemption only applies to material actually

released to the sanitary sewer. Hospitals ordinarily hold

contaminated waste for about seven half lives or until

there is no detectable contamination and then dispose of

the material via normal trash channels. This would be

particularly simple for Tc-99m with a half life of 6 hr.

Of course, waste destined for normal trash disposal must be

placed in a suitable holding area as contaminated waste

until the radioactivity has decayed to nondetectable levels.

Regulatory references: 10 CFR 20.303, 10 CFR 20.2003

Subject codes: 9.0, 9.3, 9.7

Applicability: Byproduct material

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012