Radiation Safety

The use of radioactive materials and radiation producing machines is essential for many instructional and research endeavors. At this university, all activities related to the acquisition, use, disposal, and shipping of radioactive materials or machines which produce ionizing radiation are overseen by the Radiation Safety Office and the Radiation Safety Committee.

With guidance and oversight provided by the Radiation Safety Committee, the Radiation Safety Program is designed to assure compliance with all state, federal, and local laws, regulations, and guidelines.

Operationally, the Radiation Safety Program is administered with a "customer-focused" approach. Through continuous improvement initiatives, Radiation Safety strives for goals of facilitating research, minimizing costs, maximizing the safety of personnel, and minimizing potential impact on the environment while assuring the highest level of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Radiation Safety activities are coordinated and implemented through the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS). If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions for program improvements please contact the campus Radiation Safety Officer, or call (323) 343-3531. We encourage and invite you to visit our office, located in Corporation Yard 244, to share your ideas for enhancing the overall effectiveness of the Radiation Safety Program.


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, (NRC), along with various other federal and state agencies governs the use of radioactive materials, including exposure monitoring. CSULA is required to comply with all regulations set forth by the various state and federal agencies.

The guiding operational principle of radiation safety and the CSULA Radiation Safety office is to maintain exposures “as low as reasonably achievable?(ALARA). Exposure to ionizing radiation at this campus will likely occur from the routine handling of radioactive material during planned research projects. Exposure may also occur during the process of responding to unexpected events such as spills or contamination in the laboratory.

The university exposure-monitoring program is managed using a risk-based approach. Only individuals using radioactive materials possessing sufficient energy to actually cause an exposure to be recorded receive badges to monitor exposure. Thus individuals working in labs using only S-35, P-33, H-3, and C-14 will not be monitored for exposure. Appropriate monitoring, including whole-body dosimetry and finger dosimetry, has been instituted for users of P-32 with uses of stock solutions of 1mCi and above. Individuals using activities less than 1mCi of P-32 have the option to choose whether or not to be monitored. All x-ray diffraction workers, users of x-ray machines, and users of other machines that produce ionizing radiation are required to have dosimetry (extremity and whole body). Users of multiple machines or high activity sealed sources are required to have redundant dosimetry for each unit so that an exposure may be more directly correlated to a specific unit, source, or procedure.

Pregnant Workers

Special considerations are taken for employees handling radioactive who become pregnant. However, an employee must declare their pregnancy in writing in order for the Radiation Safety Office to respond. If you believe you are pregnant, please complete the form attached below and submit to the Radiation Safety Office.

Declared Pregnant Worker

Occupational Exposure Limits

The chart below lists the occupational dose limits for adults and minors. These dose limits can be found in the NRC Code of Federal Regulations, Title 10 Part 20.

Area of Exposure Limits
Whole Body 5 rem/year
Lens of Eye 15 rem/year
Extremity Dose (skin, hands, feet, etc) 50 rem/year
Individual Organ, other than lens of eye 50 rem/year
Embryo/Fetus of a "declared pregnant woman 0.5 rem during entire pregnancy
Minors (<18 years of age) working in areas where radiation is used 10% of annual limit allowed for adult
Members of the public, which include all workers or students with "non-occupational exposure" 100 rem/year

As a matter of practice, all "occupational exposures" at this university should not exceed 1/10th of the above limits. In the event that an employee received any exposure above this internal action limit, the Radiation Safety Office will conduct an investigation into the causes of the abnormal exposure results.


If you have questions or concerns about exposure monitoring, please contact the Radiation Safety Officer at x3546.

In order to begin any research that involves radioactive materials, faculty must first obtain approval through the Radiation Safety Office. This structure allows the Radiation Safety Office to efficiently manage the proper use of radioactive materials on campus. This structure also ensures that all researchers are aware of the hazards safe practice guidelines associated with the radioactive material being handled during research.

New Researchers: All new or existing faculty who intend to utilize any radionuclide for research should complete part I and part II of the attached application and submit to the Radiation Safety Office.

Existing Researchers: They will already have an Authorization. However, they may wish to use a different isotope, or begin a new procedure. This requires an amendment. They will get the last document for amending the existing authorization and they should get the second form (Part II). The Part II form provides space for them to explain, I detail, the procedure and experiment they will be performing. This allows EH&S to look for associated hazards as well as opportunities for aerosols to be created, etc.

These documents must be reviewed and voted on by the Radiation Safety Committee. The committee meets once each quarter, so the process may be expedited by sending copies to all members and having “email Q&A" as a group on the matter. There is no restriction that says the members cannot vote electronically by email, this works especially well for amendments.

All completed documents should be placed in the three-ring binders in the rad office, each is labeled with the researcher’s name.

If inspectors ask to see the process for authorizing new workers you should show them these documents.

All applications now expire on December 31. Prior to this, Principal Investigators receive a copy of their current Authorization and a "Request for Renewal" which allows them to furnish additional information and to update their authorization. Authorizations reducing possession limits and codifying similar actions indicating less use of radioactivity need not be reviewed by the RSC. Likewise, for renewals that remain unchanged. Authorizations expanding the scope of use have amendment provisions and expedited review by the committee members. This forces PI’s to revisit their Authorization at least once each year and assess the scope of operations in the laboratory and to make the necessary changes so that the Authorization bears a higher level of relevance to actual operations in the laboratory.

Part 1 is a general information form regarding the background and experience of the researcher making the application and the resources available in the lab to properly use, store, and manage radioactivity.

Part 2 is specific to the project the researcher is planning to undertake. This section provides a detailed profile of the materials to be used, waste to be generated, exposure hazards, contamination survey requirements, and an assessment of dosimetry needs. In addition, this portion also provides information regarding undergraduate student or graduate student involvement with the project. This information is used to capture information on those individuals that need to be trained and design relevant training that applies to their specific research project.