USNRDL-TR-256 PROTECTING AND CLEANING HANDS CONTAMINATED BY SYNTHETIC FALLOUT UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS

Purposely contaminating hands to see what damage it would do and to figure out how to protect hands during radiation tests. Also this shows how they lay out radiation tests with the names of the mailing lists. At the time of publication this was secret information so they kept track of who got which report. Note “* number” is the citation number. La140 is Lanthanum 140 a radioactive isotope which is a daughter product of Barium 140 and due to its use this means that at Camp Stoneman had a hot cell on hand to mix the radioactive materials into the sand so workers deposited the radiation using lawn fertilizer spreaders onto roofs, yards and roads in what is now modern day Pittsburg California.

This article is the result of the staff being contaminated by spreading radioactive materials all over buildings, streets and roads of what is present day Pittsburg California and was the second Camp Stoneman radiation test published in 1958. Previous studies had been conducted using more damaging long lasting radiological isotopes and they wanted to make sure that they were cleaning up with sufficient means to protect themselves from the radiation.
Pittsburg California Radiation Experiments covering half of the City

PROTECTING AND CLEANING HANDS CONTAMINATED BY SYNTHETIC FALLOUT UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS Research and Development Technical Report USNRDL-TR-256
NY 320 – 001
U. S. Army
27 August 1958
by
R. H. Black
U. S. NAVAL RADIOLOGICAL DEFENSE LABORATORY San Francisco 24, California

Health and Safety Technical Objective AW-5C – Technical Developments Branch
M. B. Hawkins, Head Chemical Technology Division
E. R. Tompkins, Head Scientific Director Commanding Officer and Director P. C. Tompkins
Captain J. H. McQuilkin, USN
U. S. NAVAL RADIOLOGICAL DEFENSE LABORATORY San Francisco 24, California

ABSTRACT Hands of field test personnel became radioactively con- taminated with (a) dust slurry synthetic fallouts containing La140 tracer, and (b) La140 in acid solution. Two protective creams and several cleaning materials were used in an attempt to reduce adherance of contaminant and to facilitate decontamination. The protective creams were not found to be advantageous. Three experimental cleaning solutions (isotonic neutral solution of a complexing agent plus a detergent and germicide; an isotonic saline solution at pH 2.0 plus detergent and germicide; and a 3% citric acid solution) were found to decontaminate skin more readily than soap and water. A waterless mechanic’s hand cleaner was found to clean hands with the same effectiveness as soap and water.

ii U N C L A S S I F I E D

NONTECHNICAL SUMMARY The Problem Radioactive contamination of the skin of personnel following a nuclear weapon detonation or a radiological accident can constitute a serious health problem. However, study of preventing contamination or removing contaminant until now has been limited to laboratory-scale tests of creams and liquids for protecting and cleaning hands. Evaluation under field conditions has been lacking. Findings The hands of personnel became contaminated with synthetic fallout during a land reclamation field test. Two protective creams were used in an attempt to reduce adherance of the contaminant, and several cleaning materials to facilitate decontamination. The protective creams were not found to be advantageous. Three experimental cleaning solutions were found to decontaminate skin more readily than soap and water. A waterless hand cleaner was found to clean hands with the same effectiveness as soap and Water. –

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U N C L A S S I F I E D

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

The work reported was an outgrowth of an investigation conducted by this laboratory under the sponsorship of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the U. S. Army (OCE). This investigation is described, as Program 6, Problem 3, in this laboratory’s Preliminary Presentation of USNRDL Technical Program for FY 1957, dated February 1956.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This test was made possible by the cooperation of Mr. J. D. Sartor, who was conducting a field test in which the synthetic fallout was produced and utilized. He and his entire team were most generous in donating time for the hand-cleaning tests.

The technical assistance of Mr. D. A. Gustafson, of the San Francisco Naval Shipyard Electronics Shop, was invaluable for maintaining continuous instrument operation.

iv. U N C L A S S I F I E D

REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
INTRODUCTION

Radioactive contamination of the skin of personnel following a nuclear weapon detonation or a radiological accident can constitute a serious health problem. However, study of preventing contamination or removing contaminant until now has been limited to laboratory tests on the cleaning of contaminated skin. No information is available on the relative merits of cleaning materials used under field conditions.

Prevention through the use of rubber gloves is desirable, but under field conditions this may not always be practical or possible. Also, contaminants have been known to penetrate surgeon’s gloves.*1 Therefore, it is necessary to have alternate means of protecting or cleaning hands which are vulnerable to contamination under field conditions.

Various laboratories that utilize radioisotopes in research have published the results of case studies in which the skin of personnel which had become accidentally contaminated were decontaminated. Most of these decontaminations were performed with strong chemical reagents which are generally not applicable to field work inasmuch as they require careful supervision to prevent serious skin irritation.

Mild chemical skin decontamination methods were studied at USNRDL in 1949. *2 Two types of solutions that appeared suitable were developed: one type consisted of isotonic neutral solutions of complexing agents, plus a detergent and germicide; the other was an isotonic saline solution at pH 2.0, plus a isotonic and germicide. The toxicity of these solutions was studied in 1950; *3 both were found slightly irritating, probably due to the germicide. This study also showed that these solutionſ tended to increase the absorption into the body of a soluble Sr89CL2 contaminant.

At Operation CASTLE the hands of technical personnel and decontamination crews often became contaminated. Usually the contaminant was removable by scrubbing with soap and water or scrubbing with a mixture of

[1] U N C L A S S I F I E D

cornmeal and detergent, but on one particular individual such treatment did not remove the contaminant. An ammoniacal petroleum-based waterless hand cleaner was found to be effective in cleaning this individual’s hands.

Barrier creams, advertised as reducing dermatitis caused by contact agents, such as solvents, grimes, pollens, and irritating plants, are a possible preventive. The use of barrier creams has reduced the problem of skin contamination in one atomic energy plant;” but tests using barrier creamſ: to reduce the effect of other contact agents have not been conclusive. *4

Barrier creams may actually interpose a physical barrier between the skin and potential contaminating agents. The cream, if applied heavily enough, might even act as a shield against alpha and low-energy beta radiation. Personnel from this laboratory who have used various barrier creams found them generally useful for reducing the effect required to clean hands after working with ordinary industrial greases, paints, and grimes, and the creams caused no skin irritation. It was upon these bases that a test of the value of barrier creams was proposed for Operation REDWING as part of Project 2.8. Only limited data were obtained due to the effectiveness of the Radiological Safety Program. *5

USNRDL conducted a land target recovery field test at Camp Stoneman, Pittsburg, California, in September 1956. Full-scale decontamination procedures were used on limited areas contaminated with synthetic fallout; this provided an excellent opportunity to test methods and procedures of hand decontamination. This report describes the experiment which was undertaken. The objectives were to determine the effectiveness of barrier creams in preventing contamination from adhering to hands and to determine the effectiveness of a waterless cleaner and three experimental solutions in removing radiological contamination from the skin of the hands.

EXPERIMENTAL PLAN

During the land target recovery tests the normal field pperation duties included: Le140 solution preparation; mixing the La140 solution with soil to make the synthetic fallout; dispersing the synthetic fallout; radiation survey; and decontamination operations. Selected test personnel were given the experimental protection of a barrier cream prior to entering the contaminated area. Any person returning from the contaminated area with over 500 c/min on his hands, as determined by the Radiological Safety Monitor, was directed by the monitor to the hand cleaning center where a sequence of count-clean-count was performed on the palms of his hands using the experimental procedures described below in the section headed “Cleaning.” When the experimental band cleaning sequence for an individual was completed, he was released to the Radiological Safety Group for routine personnel decontamination.

[2] U N C L A S S I F I E D

Contaminant

Three types of contaminant were used in this experiment. Most of the data on which this report is based came from contamination by synthetic fallout traced with La140; other data came from contamination by acid La140 solution used in preparing the synthetic fallouts. The La140 is a Beta and Gamma-emitting radioisotope with a 40-hr half-life.

The two types of synthetic fallout were: dry, using ambrose clay loam and slurry, using San Francisco Bay harbor bottom material. The La140 tracer concentrations for these synthetic fallouts were 7.5 µc/g and 0.75 µc/g, giving a total of four combinations.6 Previous experiments had indicated that the La140 was firmly adsorbed to, the synthetic fallout and that cleaning operations did not desorb the La140 from the bulk carrier material; in other words, the detection of La140 radiations was a good indication of the presence of synthetic fallout.”7

The third contaminant type was the acid La140 solution. The La140 in this solution was in a chemical form suitable for absorbing onto most solids, The La140 in this form was not a tracer for a bulk carrier material; it was the contaminant.

Protection

The routine rad-safe procedure for protecting the hands of those performing the La140 solution preparation included the wearing of surgeon’s gloves, while cotton gloves were worn when manual work was being performed. Additional experimental protection was provided to randomly selected personnel by the application of a barrier cream prior to working in the contaminated areas.

The creams tested were Cream A., a hard, wax-like cream,” and Cream B, a soft, easily smoothed cream similar to common cleansing cream.*8 Both were proprietary preparations selected as suitable for Wet work.

Cleaning

The hand cleaning was performed by test personnel under supervision. A vigorous l- to 2-min wash was prescribed, but not timed. Drying was done with paper towels. The formulations of the different washes tested and application procedures are given in Table 1

Soap and water washing was chosen as a control. The EDTA and saline solutions were selected as a result of previous work at USNRDL.*2 The waterless cleaner was selected because of favorable experience at Operation CASTLE. The citric acid was recommended by the Radiological. Safety Representative for the field tests.

“Kerodex 71,” manufactured by Ayrst Laboratories, New York, New York. –
3
U N. C. L. A. S. S. I. F. I. E. D

TABLE 1.

Two washings by the same method were performed in each case, unless one wash brought the count very close to the background count. More than two washings using the same method were performed When activity levels permitted.

In some instances of unusually high beta readings, more than one cleaning method was prescribed.

Instrumentation

The instrument for routine initial radiological safety monitoring was a Geiger-Muller end-window count rate meter.* The instrument used in this study for assessing contamination on the palms of the hands was the USNRDL Large Area Beta Detector. This instrument, designed and built by the Nucleonics Division of USNRDL, consists of a modified AN/UDR-9 radiac set, a pre-amplifier, and a detector. A 5-min timer** replaces the normal switching and timing circuits of the AN/UDR-9 to simplify the operation of the instrument. The pre-amplifier is a 3-tube device with a voltage gain of approximately 1,000. The detector uses an 8 x 10 x 1/8-in, sheet of plastic scintillant.* The scintillant is coupled with 106 centistoke DC-200 silicone oil be a segmented plexiglas light-pipe, which is coupled to a 5-in. diameter photomultiplier tube.* The detector pre-amplifier combination is contained in a light-tight box with a removable cover. The instrument was set to give a 15-sec count. The physical relationship between a person with his hands in position for counting and the elements of the beta counter preamplifier is shown in Figure 1.

Two 12-µc samples of synthetic fallout were prepared for instrument standardization. Sample l was 0.75 µc/g San Francisco Bay mud (dried). Sample 2 was 7.5 µc/g San Francisco Bay mud (dried). The averaged 15-sec count was used as the standardization factor to convert from counts per 15 sec (c/15 sec) to microcuries (µc).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The effectiveness of the various methods tested is expressed as a residual fraction, the beta radiation reading of the palms of the hands taken immediately after a washing divided by the beta reading taken

  • Model 2750, Berkeley Scientific Div., Beckman Instruments Corp., Richmond, Calif. –

** “Microflex” Timer, Eagle Signal Corp., Moline, Ill.
*** “Scintilon B”, National Radiac, Newark, N. T.
**** Type 6364, A.B. Dumont Inc., Clifton, New Jersey.

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Fig. 2 Comparison of Waterless Cleaner With Soap and Water

immediately before the washing (that is, the readings taken before and after any one of several washings). All types of contaminant are included in the evaluation of a cleaning method, unless otherwise noted.

Protection Methods

The two barrier creams tested, when used in conjunction with a soap and water wash, gave approximately the same results as a soap and water wash with no special protection (Table 2).

Cleaning Methods

The residual fractions for the soap, EDTA, and waterless cleaning methods were divided into three groups to determine gross effects due to initial contamination level. These group divisions were based on initial level: less than 0.03 µc, 0.03 to 0-3 µc, and greater than 0.3 µc. The logarithmic mean residual fractions are presented in Table 2. They were normalized to l µc, 0.l µc and 0.01 µc for convenience of comparison (Figs. 2 and 3). The results presented are for all three contaminant types combined. The British maximum permissible level9 of fixed radioactivity on the skin is 10*-5 µc/cm3, which is equal to 0.00, µc uniformly distributed on the palms of both hands.”

  • The U. S. has no comparable maximum permissible level.

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Fig. 3 Comparison of Aqueous Cleaning Methods

Waterless Hand Cleaner

The averages of the first Washings with waterless cleaner were approximately as effective as the equivalent soap washings (Table 2, Fig. 2). A review of the washing procedure will show that while the soap and water washing method was not limited by the amount of water that could be used, the waterless method used only 15 cc of cleaner for one Washing

EDTA.

The average residual contamination from Washing with EDTA was considerably lower than that of soap and water (Table 2, Fig. 3).

To further test the effectiveness of EDTA, we deviated from the original plan of using a single Washing method; the initial Washing was with soap, the second with EDTA, The result of this test showed that the

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residual fraction for the EDTA wash was smaller than residual fraction for the soap wash. Also, two EDTA washings removed more contamination than the one soap wash plus one EDTA wash.

Saline Solution, pH-2.

The average residual contamination from washing with the acidic saline solution was considerably lower than that of soap and somewhat higher than that of the EDTA (Table 2, Fig. 3).

A test, similar to the special test for EDTA, was performed using the saline solution (Table 2, Fig. 3). The first two washings were with soap. The third was with saline solution. The residual-fraction from the saline solution washing averaged about half the residual fraction for the equiv- alent soap wash, showing that the saline solution removed the contaminant to a greater degree than soap.

Citric Acid Solution.

The citric acid solution was given a cursory test (Table 2, Fig. 3). The average residual from the citric acid washing was approximately the same as that of the EDTA and saline solutions.

Miscellaneous Cleaning Methods.

Three individual case studies are reported (Fig. 5). In these, an assortment of methods was used on each subject to remove a relatively high level of contamination from the hands. Conventional methods were used at the beginning and as they appeared to lose effectiveness experimental methods were tried in an attempt to reduce contamination of the hands as much as possible. In two of these cases it appeared as though contamination were “fixed” at approximately 0.1 µc but upon changing to EDTA wash the hands were cleaned to less than 0.01 µc.

Near the conclusion of the test series, two individuals’ hands became contaminated to approximately 5 µc, presumably from the acid La140 solution. One sequence of soap scrub, water rinse, EDTA scrub, water rinse (using a nylon scrub brush and warm solutions, including rinse) was used as a washing procedure. The final levels were approximately 0.05 µc, or overall residual fraction of 0.01. The cleaning sequence used in these two cases may be of interest if further investigative work is to be performed.

In another instance a man mistakenly used the waste water from the day’s hand decontamination work (containing a combination of all cleaning solutions) as the wash for his hands. His hands had an initial contami- nation level of .006 µc, which was considerable lower than the average for the day; but the waste solution cleaned his hands to .002 µc, nearly background. This one case indicates that in the event of water shortage, cleaning solutions cans perhaps, be reused. Naturally, more data would be required to substantiate the idea and to explore possible adverse side effects.

10

FIGURE 4

A nylon brush was used to a very limited degree against resistant contaminant, as the Health Physics Representative had warned us that the contaminant would be driven into the skin by brushing. No adverse effects were observed. The results of one case where a nylon brush was used are presented (Fig. 4). Further investigation could be applied to reevaluating the effect of scrubbing the skin with a nylon brush, perhaps after an initial Wash without brushing.

Miscellaneous Observations

Physiological Effects.

No attempt was made to determine toxic effects of the cleaning preparation or barrier creams. Each person used several materials over the period of the field operation; therefore effects could not be isolated. Several persons, who did not regularly use the soft cream emollient which was available, complained of chapped skin. Previous works indicated a Slight toxicity of two cleaning solutions traceable primarily to the disinfectant.

Comparison of Contaminant Types.

In a parallel analysis the data for soap, washing were separated by contaminant type and compared, i.e. , acid La140 solution, slurry 0.75 µc/g, slurry 7.5 µc/g, loan 0.75 µc/g, loam 7.5 uc/g. Slurry contaminant with 7.5 uc/g was the only one that showed a noticeably different residual fraction; it apparently was easier to remove than other contaminants. As there were only four data points showing this effect no definite conclusions can be drawn concerning the effect of contaminant type.

Initial Level Effect.

The effectiveness of the first washing was related to the initial contamination level. In general, a lower residual fraction was obtained from the washing of hands contaminated to a higher initial level of La140. This would be expected if there were a maximum level of tightly adhering synthetic fallout. There was no observable difference in the residual fractions, with respect to contamination level, for the second or third Washings.

Comparison With Previous Laboratory Study.

Comparison of some of the findings from this field test and a laboratory experiment performed in 1949, *2 upon which a portion of the field test work was based, show that in tooth cases EDTA and saline solutions were more effective decontamination agents than soap, leaving a residual fraction of approximately half that of soap. Laboratory experiments using rats gave much lower residual fractions than those observed at the field test; however, the second Washings at the field test gave residual fractions numerically almost the same as the second washing on the skin from a cadaver in laboratory tests. An additional factor, which lends further interest to the correspondence of

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the findings, is that the contaminating agents were quite different: synthetic fallout (and La** in acid solution, in a few instances) was used for field work, while a neutral solution of Sr** was used in the laboratory experiments.

Laboratory-scale decontamination tests were performed with the cooperation of human volunteer subjects*10 at approximately the same time as the field tests. A synthetic fallouts composed of Ambrose clay-loam traced with La140, was dry-sprayed onto a 10-cm2 area of the underside of the forearm, then rubbed into the skin with a rounded glass rod.

The residual fractions resulting from the cleaning operations were much lower for the laboratory tests than for the field tests, indicating that the methods were more effective in removing the synthetic fallout under the laboratory conditions. This may have been a result of a com- bination of effects, among which are the type of skin studied (i.e., palms vs underside of forearm), the total area contaminated, the mechanical action grinding the synthetic fallout into skin and mechanical action of scrubbing, the degree of supervision, the synthetic fallout contact time, etc.

However, the qualitative findings of both tests were essentially the same: barrier creams offered no large decontamination advantage, the first wash was the most effective wash (when a single cleaning agent was used), waterless mechanic’s hand cleaner was at least as effective a decontamination agent as soap and water, and EDTA and citric acid were more effective than soap as decontamination agents.

Potential Decontamination Methods

Some cleaning formulations have been suspected of increasing the absorption of Sr89C12 solution into the body.*3 However, before any cleaner is disqualified for this reasons all its properties should be weighed in the light of anticipated field con- ditions. It may be that after the contaminant has been in contact with skin for several hours, the additional absorption caused by the use of a special cleaner would be negligible. Furthermore, it may be possible that for some instances of high level contamination, a two-part wash (such as described in the second paragraph under “Miscellaneous Cleaning Methods,” would be desirable in an effort to maximize removal and minimize absorption.

The wetting agent, used alone in 0.5-percent solution has been shown to be a good decontamination agent.”*2 It may be advantageous to further evaluate this agent, for absorptions toxicity, and decontamination effectiveness under field conditions a

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CONCLUSIONS

The barrier cream pre-treatments did not detectably alter the effort required to remove the contaminants by soap and water washing.

The waterless hand cleaner showed the same effectiveness as soap and water in removing contaminant from the hands, but required the least total material volume of all cleaners tested.

The EDTA, saline, and citric acid solutions (as formulated) were more effective than soap and water in removing the contaminant.

There was no observable difference in decontamination effectiveness traceable to contaminant type.

There is no method yet which has shown itself to be reliable enough in cleaning contaminated hands to be used without the necessity of a radiation check after washing, to comply with peace-time maximum permissable levels.
Approved by:
E. R. Tompkins
Head, Chemical Technology Division

For the Scientific Director

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REFERENCES

  1. Towler, G. S. Utilization of Barrier Creams in Atomic Energy Plants. Atomics Eng. Technol. , Vol. is No. 3, p. 88.
  2. Mayer, S. W. & Britton, J. B. The Removal of Radioactive Contaminants From Skin by Solutions of Complexing Agents, Keratolytics and Detergents. U. S. Naval Radiological Defense. Laboratory Report AD-118(C), 29 April 1949.
  3. Loeffler, R. K. , Thomas, V. A Quantitative Study of Percutaneous Absorption. II. Toxicity and Effect. Upon Absorption of Two Decontamination Solutions • U. C. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory Report AD-25l.(B), 2 October 1950.
  4. Madson’s As Patch Tsäts on Skin Prepared With Kerodex. Acta Dermato Vernereological, Vol. 32, supplementum 22 (1952), p. 213.
  5. Heiskell, R. H. Shipboard Radiological Counter–Measure Methods. Project 2.8, Operation REDWING, Interim Test Report ITR-1322, U. S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, July 1956 (Classified).
  6. Weisbecker, L. W. , Lane; W. B. “Hot Laboratory for Producing Synthetic Radioactive Fallout.” Advances and Problems in Nuclear Engineering. Pergamon Press, Inc London, 1957
  7. Wiltshire, L. L., et ai. The Absorption of La 140 on Ambrose Clay Loam. U. S. Naval. Radiological Defense Laboratory Technical * Memorandum No. 67; 3 January 1957
  8. Private Communications, Dr. G. H. Hiatt’s Eastman Kodak Co., and Pat , No. 2,221,139 and 2,249,523.
  9. Dunster, H. J., The Derivation of Maximum Permissible Levels of Contaminé+ion of Surfaces by R&#icactive Materials • Atomic Energy Research Establishment (Great Britain), AERE HP/R 1495, 5 July 1954.
  10. Friedman, W. F., Decontamination of Synthetic Radioactive Fallout From the Intact Human Skin. Am. Ind. Hyg: J., Vol. 19, No. 1, p. 15, February 1958.

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  • 254 University of Rochester (Technical Report Unit)
  • 255 University of Tennessee (Hall)
  • 256 University of Utah (Stover)
  • 257 University of Washington (Applied Fisheries Lab.)
  • 258 Weil, Dr. George L.
  • 259 Western Reserve University
  • 260 Westinghouse Electric Corporation
  • 261-285 Technical Information Service, Oak Ridge

USNRDL

  • 286-325 USNRDL, Technical Information Division

 

One thought on “USNRDL-TR-256 PROTECTING AND CLEANING HANDS CONTAMINATED BY SYNTHETIC FALLOUT UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS

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