General Precautions

Reducing time, increasing distance, and using shields are methods to reduce radiation exposure. Keeping the time of exposure at a minimum is the principal method of dose reduction for autopsy personnel. Extremity distance can be achieved through the use of long-handled instruments. Shielding with a radiology lead apron (0.5 mm lead equivalent thickness) would provide some protection for gamma radiation from 99mTc and 125I but would do little for highly penetrating gamma rays from 103Pd, 131I, 182Ta, and 198Au.

Common barrier protection as determined by consensus standards (6) includes numerous items that minimize external radiation exposure from beta-emitting radioisotopes (when body cavities are opened) and assist in the prevention of personal contamination. These include double-gloves, hair covers, long-sleeved jump suits that are fluid resistant, foot covers, and facial protection (splash guards). Any wound sustained during procedures on a radioactive body should be attended immediately. The wound should be d├ębrided, if necessary, and rinsed thoroughly to remove as much radioactivity as possible. For further details on safety measures, see Chapter 16.

Table 13-1 Unshielded Dose Rates at 30 and 100 cm for Common Radioactive Materials

Dose rate (mrem/h)

Table 13-1 Unshielded Dose Rates at 30 and 100 cm for Common Radioactive Materials

Dose rate (mrem/h)

Radioisotope

Activity (mCi)

30 cm

100 cm

99mTc

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