The University of Chicago

Environmental Health & Safety

  

Radiation Safety

Who approves the use of radioactive material?

The University of Chicago Radiation Safety Committee approves the applications for non-human use of radioactive material under University radioactive material license.
The University of Chicago Medical Center Human Use of Radioisotope and Radioactive Drug Research Advisory Committee (RADRAC) approved authorized users and applications for human use of radioactive material under the University Medical Center radioactive material.

Do I need an authorization to purchase radioactive materials?

In order to purchase, use, possess, and store radioactive material, an “Application for Non-Human Use of Radioactive Material” must be on file with the Office of Radiation Safety.
Applications are available on the forms page on this website.

Who may apply for an authorization?

Faculty members are normally the individuals who may apply for an authorization to use radioactive material.

What is the approval process for a radioactive material protocol?

Initial applications and amendments must be approved by the University’s Radiation Safety Committee. The review and approval process may take several weeks; therefore, applications/amendments should be submitted well in advance of the proposed use.
Please be advised that some applications for unusual items may require an amendment to the University’s radioactive material license. The amendment must be filed with our regulatory agency, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Division of Nuclear Safety. License amendments generally require several months for approval. The Office of Radiation Safety will notify applicants when their application will be delayed pending a licensing amendment.

How long is a radioactive material protocol approved for?

An application to use radioactive material is approved for two calendar years.

What is an amendment to a radioactive material protocol?

Amendments are considered changes in laboratory locations, radiochemicals, radiochemical order limits, proposed uses, and laboratory personnel, who work with radioactive material. An amendment application form must be submitted to the Office of Radiation Safety prior to making these changes.

What radioactive material is our lab allowed to order?

Your laboratory may only order radionuclides in the specific isotope, chemical form(s) and monthly order activity limits listed on the principal investigator’s application.
Orders for unauthorized radiochemicals or activities greater than specified on the principal investigator’s application will not be approved.

Can I submit my order directly to the vendor using the Buysite Procurement System?

No, all radioactive material orders must be approved by the Office of Radiation Safety prior to submittal to the vendor. Remember to click on the “Radioisotope” button in the Buysite procurement system to ensure the order is sent to the Office of Radiation Safety for approval.

How do I get my radioactive material order?

Laboratories are required to pick-up their radioactive material orders. Orders are distributed between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Room W-01 in Billings Hospital. Laboratory personnel will be notified by telephone that their order has arrived to be picked-up.

What is the Receipt and Disposal form?

The receipt and disposal form is provided to the laboratory for each radioactive material order received. This form tracks the usage and disposal of the radioactive material for each vial received. The form must be properly completed to track the material from receipt to disposal. Once the vial is empty or the material is no longer useful, the vial should be properly disposed in the radioactive waste and the disposal recorded. The completed form must be submitted to the Office of Radiation Safety, so the inventory item can be removed from the researcher inventory list.

What is a radioactive material physical inventory form?

The radioactive material physical inventory form is sent quarterly to each principal investigator and his/her laboratory designee listing the radioactive material on hand in their laboratory. This form must be completed, signed by the principal investigator or laboratory designee, and returned by the due date. Radioactive material ordering privileges will be suspended when the inventory form is not returned within the prescribed time. Please note that the principal investigators account will be charged a late fee for inventory forms received after the due date.
These inventory records are required by the University radioactive material license and State regulations. The inventory records are maintained by the Office of Radiation Safety for review by regulatory inspectors.

May I lend or borrow radioactive material?

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

May I receive radioactive material as a loan or gift from outside the University?

Principal investigators receiving radioactive material as loan or gift from outside the university are required to have an approved application for the material to be received and must promptly notify the Office of Radiation Safety of the delivery date of the radioactive material. The radioactive material package must be shipped to the Office of Radiation Safety.

Can a researcher ship radioactive material to another institution?

No, radioactive material being shipped outside the University must be approved by the Office of Radiation Safety. The Office of Radiation Safety trained staff will complete the shipment. Laboratory personnel are not to ship radioactive material or transport radioactive material in any vehicle. To ship radioactive material to another institution our office must have authorization from the recipient institution’s Radiation Safety Office. Please notify our office in advance of the shipping date, so that our staff may obtain the necessary licensing documents and shipping address from the recipient institution. Research groups will need to provide a federal express account number for each shipment.

Who is a declared pregnant worker?

A declared pregnant worker is a worker who declares her pregnancy to her supervisor and the Office of Radiation Safety. This declaration must be in writing and include the estimated date of conception.

Who should wear a film badge?

All individuals whose work is associated with radiation that is likely to result in exposures above 10% of the limits stated in the Occupational Exposure Limit are required to wear a radiation dosimeter (above 5% of the limits for persons under 18 years of age).
Whole body badges and extremity badges are issued for a two-month wear cycle and are used to monitor exposure from high-energy beta, gamma-ray, and neutron sources. Whole body badges and ring badges do not respond to the weak beta radiation from H-3, C-14, or S-35. Workers who use H-3 and C-14, and less than 1 mCi a month of S-35 or P-32, are not required to wear a radiation badge, but may request one. Workers using 1 mCi a month or more of P-32 or other high energy beta emitter must wear a whole body badge.
Workers that use 10 mCi or more of P-32 or other high-energy beta emitters at a time or use more than 1 mCi of a gamma-ray source are required to wear a whole-body dosimeter and ring badge.

How can I start radiation monitoring badge service?

Obtain a radiation monitor badge request card. Cards are available in the Office of Radiation Safety or at the badge drop off location. Complete the front and back of the card with signatures and return to our main office in the Billings Hospital, room M-031A.

How can I cancel radiation monitoring badge service?

Obtain a radiation monitor badge request card. Cards are available in the Office of Radiation Safety or at the badge drop off location. Complete the front and back of the card with signatures and return to our main office in the Billings Hospital, room M-031A.

When does radiation monitoring badge service begin?

Badges have to be ordered and discontinued by Radiation Safety several weeks in advance. Request cards must be received in our main office (AMB M-031A) by the 15th of the month to ensure that a permanent badge is started or canceled effective the first of the following month.
If the deadline for starting a permanent badge for the next month has been missed, Radiation Safety can assign a temporary film badge. Indicate on the request card that a temporary film badge is needed until the permanent badge starts. The temporary film badge will be available for pick-up in room M-031A.

When does the Office of Radiation Safety distribute radiation monitoring badges?

The radiation monitoring badges are distributed by Radiation Safety staff at predetermined drop-off locations near the end of the current wear period. Film badges for the previous month must be returned to the drop-off location by the 10th of the of the month of the current (new) badge wear period.

When is my old radiation monitoring badge required to be returned?

Old badges from the previous wear period must be returned to the drop-off location by the 10th day of the month of the current (new) badge wear period.

Where should you wear a radiation monitoring badge?

The whole body dosimeter should be worn on the area of the whole body (from the knee up and elbow up) most likely to receive the highest exposure (e.g. on the upper chest area) with the identification sticker facing forward. If lead aprons are worn, the badge should be clipped to the shirt collar or to the outside of the top of the lead apron to measure exposure to the eyes. Supplemental badges, if issued, may be worn under the lead apron but readings obtained from such badges do not accurately measure exposure to the eyes or thyroid.
Ring badges shall be worn on the dominant hand with the label facing in the direction that your hand will receive the highest radiation exposure. This badge must be protected from contamination; therefore, it must be worn under gloves when you are working with radioactive material.

Can I share my radiation monitoring badge with another individual?

No, radiation monitoring badges are to be worn only by the individual to whom they are assigned to.

How do I find out about my radiation exposure?

Radiation monitoring records are maintained by the Office of Radiation Safety. Monitored individuals are encouraged to request their radiation exposure readings. Written requests for exposure information should be directed to the Office of Radiation Safety. Annual reports are submitted to departments for distribution to monitored individuals within the department.

What is meant by ALARA?

In addition to providing a limit on a person’s annual radiation exposure, the regulatory agencies also requires that its licensees maintain occupational exposures to as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) or as far below the limit as reasonably achievable. This means that every activity at a nuclear facility involving exposure to radiation should be planned so as to minimize unnecessary exposure to individual workers and also to the worker population. A job that involves exposure to radiation should be scheduled only when it is clear that the benefit justifies the risks assumed. All design, construction, and operating procedures should be reviewed with the objective of reducing unnecessary exposures.

How often must I survey the radioactive material laboratories?

Surveying for contamination must be performed by the RAM user during and after each experiment or use. Each laboratory is required to conduct and document a survey once per week unless radioactive material has not been used since the last documented survey. Particular attention should be directed to the hands, shoe soles, lab coats, working surfaces, equipment used, waste storage areas/containers, radioactive material storage units (refrigerators, freezers, etc.), and the floor in the working area.

How often must a radiation survey be documented?

The standardized survey form provides some brief instructions and includes a check box to signify the weeks you had no usage since the last survey. It is recommended that the laboratory staff check the Package Receipt and Disposal records each week to determine if radioactive material was used during the week (since the last survey) and to determine whether or not a documented survey is required. There is a form on the ORS website to assist in conducting and documenting a weekly check of radioactive material usage in the laboratory.

How do I survey for H-3 contamination?

Users working with H-3 must perform wipe tests to survey for contamination and use a liquid scintillation counter to analyze the wipe tests. The following procedure must be followed when performing the wipe tests:

What survey instrument do I use to survey for I-125?

Radioactive material users working with I-125 must use a survey instrument with a sodium iodide scintillation detector to survey for contamination. Remember to complete the battery test and operational check prior to use.

What survey instrument do I use to survey for most beta and gamma emitting radioactive materials?

Radioactive material users working with C-14, Na-22, P-32, P-33, S-35, Cl-36, Ca-45, Cr-51, Zn-65, Rb-86, Nb-95, Tc-99m, or I-123 must use a survey instrument with a thin-end window or pancake Geiger- Müeller (G-M) detector to survey for contamination or exposure rates. Remember to complete the battery test and operational check prior to use.

When am I required to conduct decontamination procedures?

Researchers are required to conduct decontamination procedures when removable contamination exceeds the action levels listed below. Removable contamination is defined as radioactivity that can be transferred from a surface to a smear paper by rubbing with moderate pressure.

After decontamination has been completed the area where the contamination was present must be resurveyed following the appropriate procedure to ensure the area is properly decontaminated. The contamination incident must be properly documented on the survey report.

When do I need to shielded fixed contamination and elevated exposure rates?

Researchers are required to ensure exposure rates in occupied areas are maintained as low as reasonable achievable. Therefore, appropriate shielding must be used to decrease exposure rates in these areas below the action levels listed below. Fixed contamination is defined as radioactivity remaining on a surface after repeated decontamination attempts fail to significantly reduce the contamination level. You may expect to find elevated exposure rates around your waste storage areas, stock and sample storage areas, and work areas.

After shielding of the fixed contamination or area of elevated exposure rates the area must be resurveyed to ensure the shielding has been properly positioned and sufficient shielding thickness was used. The actions taken to reduce the exposure rate must be properly documented on the survey report.


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