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Radiation Safety Training Awareness Washington State University Radiation Safety Office. WSU Radiation Safety Program. The WSU Radioactive Materials License is: - Issued by the Washington State Department of Health, DOH (Our Regulatory Authority)

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Radiation Safety Training Awareness Washington State University Radiation Safety Office

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Radiation Safety Training AwarenessWashington State UniversityRadiation Safety Office

WSU Radiation Safety Program

  • The WSU Radioactive Materials License is:

    - Issued by the Washington State Department of

    Health, DOH (Our Regulatory Authority)

    - DOH issues Radiation Control Regulations

    and Provides Radiation Machine Registration

WSU Radiation Safety Program

  • The WSU Radiation Safety Committee, (RSC) establishes Radiation Safety Policies at WSU.

  • The RSC is a presidential committee:


  • Authorized Users and Radiation Workers:

    -Are Responsible for A Safe and Compliant Research Program

  • Non-radiation Workers:

    - Aware of hazards and hazardous situations.

    - Aware of who to contact if there are questions or concerns.

WSU Radiation Safety Program

  • The Radiation Safety Office (RSO):

    Implements Policies, Manages Services,

    and Ensures Compliance

  • Our Regulatory Philosophy is:ALARA


The Radiation Safety Office (RSO)

  • Ensures compliance with State regulations (WAC 246)

  • Implements the Policies of the Radiation Safety Committee, RSC.

  • Manages all aspects of the Radiation Control Program

The Radiation Safety Office

  • Provides Periodic Inspections of Radiation

    (x-ray) Machines.

  • Routinely inspects, surveys and posts laboratories that use radioactive materials.

Many of your radiation safety questions, can be answered at our web site.


Radiation vs. Radioactive Material

Radiation: energy transported in the form of particles or waves (alpha, beta, gamma, neutrons)

Radioactive Material: material that contains atoms that emit radiation spontaneously

What is Radioactivity ?

  • If there are too many or too few neutrons for a given number of protons, the nucleus will not be stable.

    • The unstable atom will try to become stable by giving off excess energy. This energy is in the form of particles or rays (radiation). These unstable atoms are known as radioactive atoms, or radioactive materials.

Non-ionizing vs. Ionizing radiation

  • Non-ionizing radiationrefers to any type of electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy per quantum to ionize atoms or molecules — that is, to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule.

  • Examples of non-ionizing radiation: microwaves, ultraviolet light, lasers, radio waves, infrared light, and radar.

  • Ionizing radiationconsists of subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves that are energetic enough to detach electrons from atoms or molecules, ionizing them.

  • Examples of ionizing radiation: alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons, gamma rays, and x-rays.

Campfire Analogy

Where Are Sources of Ionizing RadiationUsed at WSU?

  • Research Laboratories

  • Research Reactor

  • Clinical Uses for Animals

    at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital

  • Natural Background Radiation

What Are the Sources of Ionizing RadiationUsed at WSU?

  • Radioactive Materials

    • These sources are always on.

    • They decay away with time.

    • Rooms are posted with “Caution: Radioactive Materials” sticker.

    • Sealed sources – Radiation field but no contamination.

    • Unsealed sources – Both a radiation field and a contamination hazard.

  • Radiation Machines

    • These sources are only on when they are powered up.

    • Rooms posted with a “Caution: Radiation Machines Sticker”

What is being Emitted from the Sources of Ionizing Radiation?

  • There are 4 distinct types of radiation.

  • Alpha particles are helium nuclei (2 protons, 2 neutrons):

  • Beta particles are high-speed electrons or positrons:

  • Gamma and X-ray radiation is a high-energy photon:

  • Neutron radiation is free neutrons:

Alpha Particles

  • Physical Characteristics: Large mass, highly charged, helium nuclei (2 protons, 2 neutrons)

  • Range: 1-2 inches in air

  • Shielding: Dead layer of skin, paper.

  • Biological Hazards: Internal, it can deposit large amounts of energy in a small amount of body tissue.

Beta Particles

  • Physical Characteristics: Small mass, electron size,

  • Range: Short distance (one inch to 20 feet).

  • Shielding: Plastic

  • Biological Hazard: Internal hazard. Externally, may be hazardous to skin and eyes.

Gamma Rays/X-Rays

  • Physical Characteristics: No mass. No charge.Electromagnetic wave or photon.

  • Range: Very far. It will easily go several hundred feet. Very high penetrating power.

  • Shielding: Concrete. Water. Lead.

  • Biological Hazard: Whole body exposure. The hazard may be external and/or internal. This depends on whether the source is inside or outside the body.


  • Physical Characteristics: Fairly large. No charge. Has mass.

  • Range: Range in air is very far. Easily can go several hundred feet. High penetrating power due to lack of charge (difficult to stop).

  • Shielding: Water. Concrete. Plastic (high hydrogen content).

  • Biological Hazard: External whole body exposure.

Natural radiation

Natural radiation has always been an integral part of our environment. It has been with us since the earth was formed. It is as much a part of our every day environment as the light and heat of the sun's rays.

Environmental Radiation Sources

Exposure to radiation from natural sources is an inescapable feature of everyday life in both working and public environments. The radiation we are exposed to comes from such natural sources as sunlight, soil, and certain types of rocks. Cosmic rays filtering down through the atmosphere, and radon gas filtering up through the soil, are sources of natural radiation. This radiation is called background radiation. It is present everywhere, all the time and varies greatly depending on our geographical location.

Situations Where the RSO and Facilities Operations Can Coordinate

Jobs involving areas or items where radiation hazards may exist.

  • 1. Servicing Refrigerators

  • 2. Servicing Ventilation Systems

  • 3. Servicing Plumbing

  • 4. General Housekeeping

Situations Where the RSO and Facilities Operations Can Coordinate (Continued)

General Approach to Items Needing to be Serviced

  • 1. RSO is contacted regarding the need to service an item or an area.

  • 2. If the room is a radioactive materials location then the authorized user is responsible to survey and clean the item.

  • 3. The RSO performs a survey to confirm that there is no residual radioactive contamination. At out Branch Campus and Research Stations the RSO relies upon the authorized user. (The RSO will review the survey reports to confirm cleanliness.)

4. The RSO posts a sign, survey report or a notice indicating that the item or area is clean.

Situations Where the RSO and Facilities Operations Can Coordinate(Continued)

Situations that are not routine

1. Radiation Stickers in the non-radioactive waste container.

2. Water is discovered on the floor of a radioactive laboratory.

Release of Equipment For Repair or Surplus.

  • Authorized users must decontaminate and survey each item of University equipment which has contained or may have been contaminated with radioactive materials prior to disposition.

  • The Radiation Safety Office (RSO) performs a property release survey prior to the transfer of such equipment to Surplus Stores or other release for unrestricted use.

  • After completing satisfactory radiation surveys, Radiation Safety Office personnel will remove all radioactive

    materials labels or stickers.

  • (Non-RSO personnel shall not remove radioactive

    materials labels.)

Some Housekeeping ConcernsWaste Containers.

  • The Radiation Safety Office supplies all radioactive materials waste containers to users on campus, free of charge. For liquid waste there are one gallon jugs and five gallon jugs. Please do not use glass bottles for liquid waste. For solid waste there are one cubic foot boxes and two cubic foot boxes.

Some Housekeeping Concerns(boxes)

  • Outer shipping containers (boxes) may be discarded as NORMAL trash only after they have been surveyed and found free of contamination and had any and all radioactive labels defaced.

Some Housekeeping Concerns(pigs)

  • Inner shipping containers (pigs) may also be discarded as NORMAL trash only after they have been surveyed and found free of contamination and had any and all radioactive labels defaced.

  • Except for ones that contain lead (Pb). Lead is a hazardous waste and can not be discarded in normal trash. These lead pigs will be picked up by the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) and recycled.

If you, as a Non-Radiation Worker, have any safety concerns or questions regarding radiation safety initially contact your supervisor.

Contact the RSO for Assistance at anytime.


[email protected]


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