What do I do with old X-rays?

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Trash, treasure, or recycle?

Q. What do I do with old film radiographs?

Every state requires radiograph records to be maintained for a certain number of years after an animal was last seen, says Phil Seibert, CVT, with Veterinary Practice Consultants in Calhoun, Tenn. Search online to determine what your state mandates. You could be required to keep the radiographs anywhere from three to seven years, Seibert says.

Phil Seibert, CVT

After that, you could toss the radiographs in the trash. The heavy metals used in fixer won't leach off the film or harm the environment. In addition, there's no national rule that prohibits putting radiographs in the garbage, though Seibert recommends checking with your regional waste management authority to see if there are any local restrictions. "Also be conscious that if you throw a radiograph away, any personal information will be on that film," he says.

Recycling old radiographs is a better idea. To do so, contact the company that services your radiation equipment. "If they don't recycle themselves, they typically have a local recycler who does," Seibert says. It shouldn't cost your practice anything to recycle radiographs. Normally, a recycling company will provide the service for free in exchange for the precious metals they can extract from the film, he says.

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