The University of Iowa

Ni-63 Electron Capture Detector Safety Guidelines

Use Authorization

  • Ni-63 electron capture detectors (ECD) must be registered with EHS at 335-8501.

ECD Receipt

  • Instruct the vendor or any person or facility to ship the ECD directly to EHS, 311 Grand Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa, 52246-2503.  Request that the Principal Investigator’s name be placed on the invoice/packing slip.  If the ECD is inadvertently shipped directly to you, do not open the package or use the ECD.  Contact EHS at 335-8501.

Safety Considerations

  • The ECD cannot be modified in any manner (e.g., cutting, drilling), including removing its sheet metal cover.
  • The “Caution – Radioactive Materials” label must be attached to the detector.  The label must identify the type of radioactive material the ECD contains, the activity, and a reference date.
  • Never use a damaged detector – notify EHS immediately upon discovery.
  • Cap the inlet and outlet fittings when the ECD is not in use.
  • Solvents (including water) or corrosive chemicals in contact with the ECD may compromise its integrity.
  • Interfering with the overheat circuitry could result in the release of radioactive material from the ECD.
  • Vent ECD effluent to a filter or a fume hood – not ambient room air.  Wear disposable gloves when removing or attaching vent lines.
  • The ECD must be available for inventorying by EHS every three months and for leak testing every six months.

ECD Returns, Shipping, or Unit Relocation

Contact EHS before selling or relocating an ECD unit.

EHS must ship all ECDs in order to comply with DOT and/or IATA shipping regulations.  Prepare the ECD for shipment by following the steps listed below:

  • Remove the ECD from the unit as instructed in the manual supplied with the ECD.
  • Wipe off any external chemicals or debris with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Plug the entrance fitting and cap the vent tube.
  • Complete and sign the license verification form available from the ECD vendor.
  • Pack the detector and the completed license verification form in the cardboard return box sent with the detector originally.
  • Contact EHS at 335-8518 to arrange for pick up.
  • EHS will need a Federal Express billing number in order to process your shipment.


Immediately report to EHS the following:

  • Loss of ECD integrity.
  • Loss or theft of an ECD.
  • Temperature control failure.
  • Physical damage to the ECD.