Medical radioactive waste

In Greece, as in all modern societies, radiation is broadly used in medical applications for diagnosis and treatment. Medical radioactive waste mainly originates from the nuclear medicine facilities/departments, where radiopharmaceuticals are administered intravenously, by ingestion or by inhalation during diagnostic procedures or treatments.

The materials used for the preparation and administration of radiopharmaceuticals (gloves, syringes, vials, etc.), the patients’ excreta (diapers, urine collectors, restroom papers etc.) and other items, such as utensils, napkins, empty bottles of beverages/water, used by patients who have been administered with radiopharmaceuticals, are considered and handled as medical radioactive waste.

Medical radioactive waste may also be produced:

• by hospitals and clinics, due to the hospitalization of patients who have been administered with radiopharmaceuticals, either in house or in another medical facility;

• rarely by brachytherapy facilities/departments where radioactive implants (seeds) I-125 are used for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Diagnostic and interventional radiology facilities/departments do not produce radioactive waste.

The management of the medical radioactive waste is conducted within the “producer’s” premises i.e. hospitals and medical centers, by authorized personnel. In particular, they are monitored and whenever their radiation level does not comply with the regulatory clearance levels, they are stored in specifically designated and authorized areas in house until the remaining radioactivity decays to levels that the clearance is permitted.

Moreover, radiocontaminated items that originate from residencies or other public/private premises, due to the presence of people who have undergone nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures or treatments, may eventually be found in the so called “household waste”. The release of radiocontaminated items, such as diapers, restroom papers, napkins, empty bottles of beverages/water etc, to the household waste is a fully acceptable practice and  should not raise any concern to the public, considering that the patient has been released from the nuclear medicine facility.

EEAE has also issued the Decision 2/214/05.06.2014, Official Gazette 1958/B/18.07.2014 "Establishment of procedures for the clearance/acceptance of radiocontaminated items and radioactive waste from medical applications".

Moreover, EEAE has issued working instructions and upon request provides training to the staff of the urban waste disposal facilities (landfills). The operators of urban waste disposal facilities ensure the appropriate training of their staff and the adherence to the aforementioned working instructions.


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