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Frequently asked questions


Application / Permits

A Responsible User (or “RU”) is the University of Utah full time faculty or staff member that will be held ultimately responsible for the safe and compliant acquisition, use, and disposal of radioactive materials on their permit.

A radiation worker is an adult (i.e. ≥ 18 years old) who has successfully completed the University of Utah’s Radiation Safety Training requirements, and has been approved for work under an active permit under an RU.

Complete the University of Utah’s Radiation Safety Training requirements, and be approved for work under an active permit under an RU.

Most radioactive material that “anyone can buy” is actually acquired through a “General License”.  Since the University of Utah is still responsible for inventory control and proper disposal of these materials, we ask that you contact the Radiation Safety Office prior to acquisition (or immediate notification upon acquisition).

Although the radiation portion of this work falls under the jurisdiction of the Radiation Safety Office, all work with animals must be approved under IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee).

Currently, there is no permit renewal process. Therefore, once a permit is granted, there is no expiration unless otherwise notified.

Permit amendments are required if there is any change to the radioactive material types or amounts, application of use, locations for use, or radiation workers.

It is possible for a minor to be allowed to work with radiation if the requirements as stated in the "Requirements for Reviewing Application of Minors as Radiation Workers" Job Aid are met.

 


Laboratory Operations

Since the primary radiological concern in the majority of the radiation laboratories at the University of Utah is concerning contamination, the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that is required, at a minimum, to be worn in these areas are long pants, closed toe/enclosed shoes, lab coat, and disposable gloves.  If there is a possibility that material may get on the face or in the eyes (e.g. splash), then safety eyewear or splash shield would be required.  In addition, if there is an issue with radiation exposure (e.g. open beam x-ray), then shielded garments may be needed. For clarification, discuss your PPE requirements with the Project Holder/PI/RU or Radiation Safety.

No. Per the OEHS Chemical Hygiene Rule: "Eating, drinking, smoking, gum chewing, applying cosmetics, and taking medicine in laboratories where hazardous chemicals are used should be strictly prohibited".

No minors (i.e. individuals less than 18 years old) may be in a radiation use area unless they have been specifically permitted to do so by the Radiation Safety Officer.

Adults that are not approved Radiation Workers may enter these areas, provided no other restrictions apply, under the direct supervision of an Authorized Radiation Worker.

 


Training

Our in-person training sessions will be listed in the "Events" portion of our website. If these times do not work for you (e.g. class schedule conflict), please contact our office at 801-581-6141 to schedule a special session.
Currently, you will begin your training online. Once the online course has been successfully completed, you will receive a notice from our office indicating that you are eligible for in-person training. You may also call our office at 801-581-6141 if you have questions.
There is no training fee for anyone with a University of Utah UNID.
With respect to Radiation Safety training, you do not need to take Radiation Worker training if you are not working with radioactive isotopes or radiation-producing equipment.  However, if you are working in a lab, there is general laboratory safety training that you are expected to take.  This training is provided by the Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Department – their web site is:  https://oehs.utah.edu/.

 


Radioactive Material

 

All radioactive material transferred to another user at the University of Utah must be approved by the Radiation Safety Office. The department or laboratory that will be transferring the radioactive material must call our office and state the name of the Responsible User to receive the material, the radionuclide, the activity and the chemical form. This will ensure that the recipient Responsible User is approved for the radioactive material.

You may only order the radioactive material in the type and up to the limit of what is specified on your permit.

If your permit allows for the type and amount of radioactive material you wish to order, then you must use Ushop.

  1. Lock up your sources when they are not in use by authorized personnel, such as in a locked cabinet or refrigerator. Unauthorized personnel should not be provided key or access codes for the source storage location.
  2. Ensure that your laboratory is secured when authorized personnel are not present. 
  3. Know who is in your laboratory area. Consider having a log book for staff to sign in and our of the lab each day, if the lab does not have key-card access. "Challenge" visitors to laboratory. This challenge does not need to be confrontational, but if there is someone in your area that you do not recognize, then make eye contact with the individual(s) and ask if there is something they need help with. People with bad intentions do not
Immediately contact Radiation Safety (801-581-6141) if you suspect that radioactive material has been lost or stolen.

 


Dosimetry

Radiation dosimeters (aka “badges”) a required for any radiation worker that is expected to receive 10% or more of their annual limit. However, the university also issues dosimeters to those who will not meet this limit, but (need words here). If you are issued a dosimeter, then you are required to wear it when working with radiation.

You can request (in writing) a report from Radiation Safety.

 

Dosimeter results for Instadose dosimeters are transmitted using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to Mirion servers. Instadose badge wearers can immediately see their exposure results by connecting to a:

  • Instalink Hot Spot Station
  • PC with an Instalink USB, or
  • Phone or tablets with BLE and the Instadose App

All dosimeter results are reviewed monthly by Radiation Safety personnel. Individuals are contacted if the monthly dose results exceed investigation limits. Summaries of radiation dose are provided to all monitored personnel annually.

No. Your dosimeter is only used for measuring the dose you receive occupationally from working with radiation.

Employees who have been issued personal dosimetry should store their dosimeter(s) at work, away from sources of radiation and heat sources (such as inside a hot car). Dosimetry badges should not be left on shared PPE (such as shielding aprons) where it could be exposed to radiation or someone else could wear it.

Dosimetry badge racks are provided in some locations to facilitate badge storage and exchange - dosimeters should remain on the rack when not in use.

If you work with radiation at more than one facility or location, contact Radiation Safety for guidance concerning your dosimetry management.

 


Pregnancy and Radiation

No. A pregnant radiation worker is not required to declare her pregnancy. It is up to her to decide that matter. However, if she chooses not to declare her pregnancy, additional protective measures might be overlooked which might otherwise be applied for minimizing occupational dose to the embryo/fetus.

A worker who is pregnant,  and wishes to declare their pregnancy can complete Declared Pregnant Worker Training through Radiation Safety. A representative from Radiation Safety will make arrangements to discuss declaring pregnancy with the worker. The Radiation Safety representative will also review with the worker any additional radiation control measures or special dosimetry which might be employed should she elect to declare her pregnancy. If the Radiation Worker voluntarily chooses to become a Declared Pregnant Worker, then they will complete a form which declares this pregnancy, and a fetal dosimeter may be issued (with instructions for wearing). The Declared Pregnant Worker can undeclare her pregnancy at any time - no reason for the removal of the declaration is needed.

 


Meters and Instruments

Most radioactive materials used on this campus are beta and gamma emitters. Unless you are using a low-energy beta emitter (e.g. H-3), you will likely need a Geiger–Müller detector.  As always, if you have questions regarding the type of meter you need, contact Radiation Safety (801-581-6141) for guidance.

If your meter has become damaged, such as a puncture in a GM probe mica window, contact Radiation Safety for assistance. We are capable of performing some basic repair. Otherwise, contact the meter manufacturer or your preferred service provider for these services.

In plain terms, "cpm" (counts per minute) is the reported (by the detector) level of contamination; whereas "dpm" (disintegrations per minute) is the actual level of contamination. The equation to convert cpm to dpm is:

dpm = [cpm - background (in cpm)]/meter efficiency

Note that the efficiency of the meter can vary based on type and energy of radioisotopic decay.

Example:Meter measures 500 cpm background, and 3500 cpm on workbench surface. What is the dpm?

Scenario 1: You are working with P-32, and the meter efficiency is 0.3 (30%)

dpm = 3500 cpm - 500 cpm / 0.3 = 10,000

Scenario 2: You are working with C-14, and the meter efficiency is 0.04 (4%)

dpm = 3500 cpm - 500 cpm / 0.04 = 75,000

 


Radioactive Waste

Radiation Safety prefers that you use only the waste containers that we provide. Contact us (801-581-6141) if you need radioactive waste containers.

Consult our Radioactive Waste Guide. If you still have questions, feel free to contact Radiation Safety at 801-581-6141.

Animal waste that has radiation contamination will need to be disposed of by Radiation Safety. Segregate the animal waste from other items (e.g. gloves, paper, needles) and place in proper waste container (bag or box). Please make sure the waste package is not to heavy (must weigh less than 22 pounds). Label the waste with a radioactive waste tag and put in a waste pickup request.

Radiation Safety picks up both lead pigs that are contaminated and those that are not contaminated. We can pick up non-contaminated lead pigs at the same time as a radioactive waste pick up. Contaminated lead pigs constitute mixed waste and you should contact Radiation Safety at 801-581-6141 for handling instructions.

Last Updated: 4/4/19