2022 Annual Report

6 Recovering Radioactive Rubbish What happened: A local metal recycler detected radiation in a truckload of scrap. The recycler rejected the load and contacted EH&S for assistance. The Iowa Department of Health & Human Services' Bureau of Radiological Health (BRH) has a memorandum of understanding with EH&S for radiological support services. It was decided that EH&S would manage the identification and disposal of the radioactive material. This spared the BRH a trip to Ames, and the situation was addressed quickly. Why it matters: Instead of treating the whole load of scrap metal as radioactive material, the radioactive item was located, saving significant disposal costs. The intrigue: EH&S is uniquely equipped with five subject matter experts and the equipment necessary to identify specific radioisotopes. EH&S brought the radioactive metal to the Environmental Health and Safety Services Building (EHSSB) for analysis, where the team determined that the contamination was likely radioactive iodine, I-131. ● This isotope is commonly used in thyroid therapy and decays with an eight-day half-life. State of play: The radioactive item was stored at EHSSB until it was no longer radioactive, about a threemonth process. ■ Radioactive metal retrieved from a truckload of scrap. EH&S determined that the contamination was likely radioactive iodine, I-131.