Information Notice No. 84-43: Storage and Handling of Ophthalmic Beta Radiation Applicators

                                                            SSINS No.: 6835 
                                                            IN 84-43       

                                UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                                June 7, 1984

                                   RADIATION APPLICATORS 


All medical licensees. 


This Information Notice is provided as notification to licensees of recent 
findings where strontium-90 eye applicators were stored with radiation 
levels in excess of regulatory requirements and possibly unnecessarily 
exposed the public to radiation. Recipients are expected to review the 
information for applicability to their facilities and consider actions, if 
appropriate, to preclude similar problems occurring at their facilities. 
However, suggestions contained in this information notice do not constitute 
NRC requirements and no specific action is required. 

Description of Circumstances: 

During the past 2 years, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspectors have
observed several beta applicators in closed storage containers with surface 
dose rates (from bremsstrahlung) in the range of 40-95 millirems/hour. Some 
of these boxes housing stronium-90 were stored so that radiation levels in 
unrestricted areas could exceed the requirements of 10 CFR 20.105(b). 
Measured dose rates were found to be greater than 0.6 millirem/hour at 18 
inches from area boundaries. Therefore, if persons were continuously present
in the area for 7 consecutive days, doses might exceed 100 millirems. 

The primary reason that the radiation levels are above 0.6 millirems/hour at
18 inches from boxed applicators is that the loose pieces of aluminum placed
inside the boxes on the bottoms and sides by the manufacturer are often 
discarded by the recipients of the eye applicators. The aluminum pieces 
(called "donuts") provide the necessary shielding to prevent excessive 
bremsstrahlung radiation. 


The following three alternative actions have previously been found to 
provide appropriate levels of protection: 

1.   Radiation surveys of the applicator in its closed storage container 
     demonstrating the maximum radiation levels at 12 inches from each 


                                                               IN 84-43    
                                                               June 5, 1984 
                                                               Page 2 of 2 

     of the container surfaces in accordance with the license terms and 10 
     CFR 20.201. Any reading exceeding 5 millirems/hour at 12 inches from 
     the container surfaces, requires posting the room or area as required 
     by 10 CFR 20.203(e). Storage and handling procedures must ensure that 
     persons in unrestricted areas are not exposed to radiation levels in 
     excess of the limits specified in 10 CFR 20.105(b). Some instances of 
     high radiation levels have been the result of missing aluminum donuts 
     from the boxes. 

2.   Shielding such as aluminum, wood, lucite, etc. which reduces the 
     readings in unrestricted areas to less than 0.6 millirem/hour at 18 
     inches from the shielding. 

3.   Storage of the applicator and container in a secured area that is 
     accessible only to the authorized applicator user and that limits the 
     dose rate to the public to less than 0.6 millirems/hour at 18 inches 
     from accessible surfaces of the storage area. 

No written response to this information notice is required. If you need 
additional information regarding this matter, please contact the Regional 
Administrator of the appropriate NRC regional office or this office. 

                              J. Nelson Grace, Director 
                              Division of Quality Assurance, Safeguards, 
                                and Inspection Programs 
                              Office of Inspection and Enforcement 

Technical Contact:  Jack Metzger, IE
                    (301) 492-4947

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