BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: A clearance system for medical radioactive solid waste has not yet been implemented in Japan. Since 2004 new regulations have allowed institutions using positron emission tomography(PET)to handle totally decayed radioactive waste as non-radioactive waste after decay-in-storage. It was expected that this new regulation would mediate the installation of clearance systems in Japan. In order to assess the current situation of radiation safety management in PET institutions, we conducted a nationwide survey. METHODS: The study design was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted by questionnaire. The subjects of this survey were all the PET institutions in Japan. Among 224 institutes, 128 institutes are equipped with cyclotrons and 96 institutes are not. The number of returned questionnaires was 138. RESULT: Among institutes that are using delivered radiopharmaceuticals, 80% treat their waste as non-radioactive according to the new regulation. The impact of new regulations for reducing radioactive waste in PET institutes without a cyclotron was estimated at about $400 thousand per year. DISCUSSION: The main concern of medical institutes was assessment of the contamination caused by by-products of radioactive nuclides generated in target water during the operation of a cyclotron. It was thought that a rational rule based on scientific risk management should be established because these by-products of radioactive nuclides are negligible for radiation safety. Conclusion: New regulation has had a good influence on medical PET institutes, and it is expected that a clearance system for medical radioactive waste will be introduced in the near future, following these recent experiences in PET institutes.
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