How to Dispose the Waste from Isotope Labeling

Isotope labeling has been widely used in various studies and practice, much more attention is paid on its application and technology advancement, the disposal of the related waste is ignored. This article concentrates on the isotopes waste from isotope labeling.

The common forms of isotope labeling are stable isotope labeling and radioactive isotope labeling. From the perspective of radiation character and harm to the surroundings, the disposal of stable isotope labeling waste is much easier than that of the correspondent from radioactive isotope labeling applications or researches.

Stable Isotope Labeling Waste

Generally, the stable isotope labeled waste shares little difference with the common chemical waste as they will experience few changes and bring little harm to the open environment after being discarded as waste. Thus special attention only should be paid when the stable isotopes are of a certain character that may influence the normal activities of other matters and such waste should be declaimed with its contain of stable isotope labeled substances.

Radioactive Isotope Labeling Waste

However, the situation will be much more complicated to the dealing of the waste from radioactive isotope labeling and it will also be done with more expense. Radioactive isotopes differ from each other in their emitting radiation. For some the radiation only takes days or months to diminish, while for others it may take years even longer time to decay totally into other substances, according to which the disposal ways should be distinguished.


First of all, they must be separated with the common chemical waste as they can’t be dealt as normal chemical or medical waste. The same goes to the wastes themselves. Different isotope waste shouldn’t be mixed. Other facilitating tools and equipments like gloves, papers, apparatus, and glasses also should be dealt separately with their characteristics. Classification is of importance in the management of isotope waste in both laboratory and practice sites. Besides, sharp objects should be grouped into a separate rigid container for safety.

Then every waste container should be labeled clearly with its contents, and newly added waste also should be registered on the label. If it’s necessary for the use of shielding, just apply it.

For the isotopes waste that owns ten half lives or above should be submitted to the Environmental, health and safety (EH&S) department for disposal.

All steps should be done by the laboratory workers that accepted professional train and are authorized with Radiation Safety Training certificate complying with the related regulation.


  • To better dispose the waste, job would be better done from the origin of the adoption of isotopes, for which, regular inventory management can be involved to avoid ignorance of any isotopes waste
  • All isotopes waste is better to be stored respectively unless with ensured safety like 3H & 14
  • The mixed waste that can’t be separate with the present technique in the lab or other sites should be handled strictly complying with the Mixed Waste Policy issued by Environment Healthy and Safety department.
  • The laboratory based radioactive isotopes are mostly in low level of activity and with short half life, thus disposing according to the regulation will be enough to ensure the safety, thus no extra worry is needed in such situation.


  • Radioactive Waste from Wikipedia
  • Safety and Precautions from
  • Radioactive Waste Management Brochure from Columbia University
  • Guide to Isotope Management in Laboratories from Weil Cornel Medial College