Just as there is a right and wrong way to dispose of a computer. There is also a right and wrong way to dispose of Tritium signs. The most familiar tritium signs are exit signs found in building that leads a person to safety in the event of an emergency. Because of the important job these signs have been given, they must work properly, be inspected regularly, and be reported to a government entity of all their whereabouts. This task may seem taxing and in some cases minuscule to the laymen. However, constructions companies and facility manager/owner must adhere to the government guidelines on proper Tritium disposal.
Tritium is a gas that is comprised of two neutrons and one proton and is minimally radioactive. Although Tritium is a low-level radioactive beta emitter, there are still federally mandated rules to handle, the transfer and disposal of this material.
One must be appointed a “responsible individual” in order to properly handle this type of disposal. The device should be checked every five years as they have a 10-12.5 year life span. Many companies return the Tritium sign to the manufacture for disposal. However, if you choose to have a person in-house to dispose of the Tritium sign, you must list him or her with your regional Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Find your local NRC.
How do you know if your sign is indeed a Tritium sign? If there are any of the following abbreviations listed on the exterior or interior of the light’s frame, it is a Tritium sign. The words "Curie, Radioactive, or Becquerel" may also be listed on the frame.
• H3 • Ci
One of the most common characteristics of Tritium lights is their illumination feature. When the main source of light is on, a Tritium light will be dim. When the main source of light is off, the Tritium light will illuminate brightly. Once your sign has been determined to be a Tritium sign, the proper manner in which to dispose of the beta emission device is as follows.
Report the transfer, disposal (or theft) to your Regional Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) using the Nuclear Event Database (NMED) within 30 days of the activity.
Wear water resistant gloves. In the event the liquid waste on your hands while transporting, the water resistant gloves will protect you from any radioactive exposure.
Do not puncture any valves.
Take a photo of the label. This will protect your company if every faced or forced by the Federal Government to prove that you properly disposed of the Tritium sign.
(The Department of Transportation requires the shipper to take Hazardous Material Training course - CFR #49 Part 112)
When shipping back the Tritium sign, know that each box cannot contain more than 100 curries. The manufactures directions should list how many curries each sign consist of. Tritium disposal may not be high on your company’s list of priorities, but it must be done. It must be done, and it must be done properly. If need more information about regulated process, please contact your manufacture directly and immediately. Call us, Self Luminous Exit Sign Co., at (800) 379-1129 to coordinate the proper disposal.