Using starch powder for the decontamination of I-131 in isolation rooms

Document Type: Original Article


Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Center, Royal Hospital, Muscat, Oman


Introduction: Various iodine isotopes are undergoing radioactive decay except Iodine-127 (I-127. Iodine I-131 is unsealed radioactive material used in nuclear medicine for both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in Royal Hospital since 2006. In radiotoxic classification, I-131 is in group 2 element. I-131 is highly reactive element due to its volatilization nature. Currently, commercial Radio-active wash spray method used for I-131 decontamination in nuclear medicine.
Methods: Violated fumes from stable Iodine I-127 after heating in fume hood were exposed to starch powder and sugar to verify the starch affinity in trapping iodine reaction and compare with sugar. Then, decontaminate two areas, one by applying starch powder with alkaline and the other area was decontaminated using commercial Radio-active wash spray. Wipes were taken from both areas after each decontamination attempts and measured using well counter (Capintec, CRC-55-tW, and USA).The I-131 decontamination attempts measurements were plotted for both starch powder and Radio-active wash.
Results: The starch has affinity of trapping Iodine permanently, while the sugar did not have this property. The effectiveness of starch in case of Iodine-131 contamination was assessed practically. The reduction in contamination by cleaning up using starch powder was more effective compared to the commercial Radio-active wash.
Conclusion: This technical note explains the starch effect on I-131 decontamination compare to usual method which is commercial Radio-active wash. Using starch powder for trapping is an efficient and cost effective technique for decontamination of I-131.


Main Subjects

  1. Downs AJ, Adams CJ. The Chemistry of Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine and Astatine. In: Pergamon Texts in Inorganic Chemistry. 1st ed. Oxford; Pergamon Press; 1975.
  2. Winger RJ, Koenig J, House DA. Technological issues associated with iodine fortification of foods. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2008;19(2):94-101.
  3. West CE, de Koning FLHA, Merx RJHM. Effect of iodized salt on the colour and taste of food. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund; 1995.
  4. Ravichandran R, Binukumar JP, Sreeram R, Arunkumar LS. An overview of radioactive waste disposal procedures of a nuclear medicine department. J Med Phys. 2011 Apr;36(2):95-9.
  5. Jane J, Chen YY, Lee LF, McPherson AE, Wong KS, Radosavljevic M, Kasemsuwan T. Effects of amylopectin branch chain length and amylose content on the gelatinization and pasting properties of starch. Cereal Chem. 1999;76:629–63.
  6. Biodex Part of Mirion Technologies. Biodex nuclear medicine and molecular imaging devices and supplies catalog #125;2020. Available from: