Radiation Safety FAQs

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires training for all individuals who, in the course of employment (or study), are likely to receive an occupational exposure of 100 mRem in one year. The training should be commensurate with their activities. In general, such training includes biological effects of radiation, their responsibilities to report promptly any condition which may lead to or cause a violation of regulations or unnecessary exposure and the proper response to signs and warnings. In determining those individuals subject to training requirements, EHS will take into consideration assigned activities, including tasks not under NRC jurisdiction, such as x-ray equipment use.

Each authorized Principal Investigator is responsible for training the individuals working in his/her laboratory. Radiation Safety assists Principal Investigators by providing orientation seminars on radiation safety and radiation protection techniques.

Individuals should not work with radioactive materials until they have attended a Radiation Safety Orientation seminar. These seminars are generally offered twice each month.

Principal Investigators are kept informed of the upcoming schedule for orientation seminars. Additional optional lectures on topics of interest are also provided by Radiation Safety.

Yale University has a Broad Type License from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This allows researchers at Yale to use dozens of different radionuclides. However, the vast majority of the radioactive material used at Yale involves low-energy beta emitters used for biomedical research. These include H-3, C-14 and S-35. A high-energy beta emitter, P-32, is also commonly used. In addition, I-125 which has a complex decay scheme, is routinely used by many research groups at Yale. See Radionuclides Handling Precautions for more information

Generally, yes. The vast majority of work performed at Yale with radioactive materials can continue without modification during pregnancy. Once a person officially informs her employer in writing of her pregnancy using the Radioactive Material Use-Declaration of Pregnancy Form found in the Safe Use of Radiation by Pregnant Personnel Policy, new dose limits apply. A person can obtain a second film badge from Radiation Safety. This second badge is worn at the waist to monitor the exposure to the unborn child.

Regulations require that the dose for the nine months of pregnancy must not exceed 500 mRem. Radiation Safety personnel can review your prior exposure history and your current projects that involve the use of radioactive materials or radiation producing equipment. This will provide an estimate of the likely exposure that may be received during the duration of pregnancy.

This review may also result in suggestions to further reduce your exposure to radiation. Because the fetus is sensitive to radioiodine, it may be suggested that you not perform iodinations during your pregnancy. Because of the increased sensitivity of the fetus, the it may be suggested that you limit your use of some very large sealed sources of radioactive material.

After a Principal Investigator has received approval to purchase radioactive material, orders may be placed using the Yale Procurement department’s online ordering program called SciQuest. Phone orders may also be placed by calling Radiation Safety Purchasing at 203-737-2118. All orders for radioactive material must be placed with Radiation Safety or using Yale’s SciQuest purchasing system. Do not place orders for radioactive materials directly through the Yale Purchasing Department.

All orders must be approved by Radiation Safety prior to processing. This includes all radioactive material orders placed through SciQuest. SciQuest automatically routes radioactive material orders through Radiation Safety for approval. Orders are most commonly placed with Amersham Inc. (GE Healthcare), Dupont NEN (Perkin Elmer) and ICN Corp. (M+P Biomedical), but can be ordered through any vendor. Many items are shipped from these companies the same day they are ordered and will be delivered by EHS to your lab on the following day.

Please call 737-2118 with any questions related to the purchase of radioactive materials.

Each radioactive material comes from the vendor with storage information. Depending on its chemical form, it may need to be stored at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen. Whatever temperature or storage conditions are required, stock vials of radioactive material must be stored in a secure manner. A lockbox, locked refrigerated/freezer or locked lab must be part of your plan to ensure safe, secure storage of radioactive materials. All radioactive solutions must be well labeled as to isotope, activity and date.

Yes. When a Principal Investigator is granted approval to use radioactive material by the Yale University Radiation Safety Committee, certain limits are authorized. The maximum amount to be ordered at in one day is stated as part of the approval. The maximum amount allowed to be in the possession of one Principal Investigator at one time is also stated. The total amount of radioactive material in all individual laboratory rooms used by that PI is summed. This total, including waste and experiments in progress in the labs, must not exceed the authorization limits. See your individual PI for information about the specific limits in your research group.

After completing the necessary regulatory requirements, radioactive material may be shipped from Yale. There are very specific regulations about the transport of radioactive material on public streets. Radioactive material may not be taken on the Yale shuttles or in personal vehicles. Arrangements for the shipment of radioactive material in certified shipping containers and by approved carriers may be made by contacting Radiation Safety. Because special HazMat training is required for all shippers of radioactive material, Radiation Safety personnel will assist you in completing the necessary shipping papers for transport of radioactive material outside of Yale University.

If it is likely that your radiation dose will exceed 10 percent of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s limits or 25 percent of the State of CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection limits, you will need to wear a personal radiation monitoring badge.

All users of medical x-ray equipment (C-arms, fluoro units, therapy units) must wear badges. Those using larger quantities of radioactive materials will also be provided badges. Those using 10 millicuries or more of P-32 or other high-energy beta (or gamma) emitters will also be provided ring badges to monitor their hand exposures. Those using only H-3, C-14 and S-35 will not be provided badges as radiation from these low-energy beta emitters cannot be recorded on the badge monitor.

You must first attend a Radiation Safety Orientation Seminar. Once you are trained, complete a Radiation Monitoring Service Form. You can be issued a badge immediately or the badge can be forwarded to you through campus mail.

ALARA is a philosophy of excellence used in day-to-day work with radioactive materials, which strives to keep radiation exposure “As Low as Reasonably Achievable”. See Yale’s ALARA Program for more information.

Yes. There are strict controls on the disposal of radioactive material. Equipment for disposal must be surveyed by members of Radiation Safety prior to release for disposal. For broken equipment that has been used with radioactive material, a Radiation Safety release survey must be completed prior to allowing Yale repair persons or outside vendors to service the equipment. Call 203-737-2121 to arrange for release surveys.

Yale University has medical, veterinary and research x-ray equipment. The specific types of x-ray equipment may be designed to image human patients, animals, viruses, ceramics and for a large number of other purposes.

Radiation Safety should be notified as soon as any purchase of x-ray equipment is planned so that shielding and other safety requirements can be determined. X-ray equipment must be registered with the State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Any fees are the responsibility of the Principal Investigator.

For dry waste, we pick up the bags inside the boxes. We then replace the bags. For liquid waste, we will pick up and replace the whole container (one or five gallon only). For LSV waste, we pick up and replace the drums. For stock vial waste, we pick up the packaged box of stock vials.

Yes. The dry and LSV waste must be segregated by half-life. Liquid waste must be segregated by isotope.

The Radiation Safety Manual is a great reference to the types of shielding required for your specific isotopes. You can also ask your Safety Advisor.

The telephone number is 203-432-6545. Please use this number for inquiries only.

All radioactive waste requests are submitted through EHS Integrator. When you submit a request, the system automatically generates a completed waste tag to attach to waste containers.