How to dispose of used x-ray machines

Written by nicole whitney
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How to dispose of used x-ray machines
X-ray machines must be disposed of properly. (x-ray image by Claudio Calcagno from

X-ray machines are important pieces of medical equipment. However, eventually they must be replaced with newer x-ray technology or because they have broken. Disposal regulations in the United States are handled on the state level. Just as some states are more stringent than others in terms of registering the machines, the regulations for disposal are stricter in some states than others. No matter what state or country you live in, checking local regulations is an important part of taking care of your old x-ray machinery.

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    Check your state regulations for any special steps you must take during the disposal process. These will be posted on the state website, often in the environmental or health bureau sections. Some states such as Michigan require that the machine be registered at a specific address, and changing the location of the machine means re-registering it at the new address.

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    Decommission the x-ray machine. An x-ray machine that is not plugged into an electrical source cannot emit X-rays, so it is important to unplug a machine that should not be used. Disable the x-ray unit inside the machine by removing the head. Be careful not to break the x-ray tube. This tube is under vacuum and any breakage could make the glass splinter and cause injury to anyone nearby.

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    Check the x-ray unit for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This pollutant was used before 1979 to make capacitors and transformers. Any machine that could have PBCs in its parts should be tested. If the machine has PCBs in it, you will need to contact a waste removal specialist. Refer to your state's guidelines, as some may be stricter than others in this department as well. It is usually your own responsibility to test the machine before you transfer ownership in any way.

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    Decide how you want to dispose of the unit itself. There are different ways to get rid of an x-ray unit. You can donate it to a company that recycles usable machines. You can also transfer ownership of a working machine to an individual or institution that is legally able to use x-ray machines. These institutions should be registered with the state if your state requires such registrations. If a waste disposal company in your area will accept it, you can simply get rid of the whole machine. You can also sell the parts for scrap if your state allows this.

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