Radiation Safety

X-ray radiation caution sign

Control of Radioactive Materials

The use of radioactive materials is regulated by the Washington State Department of Health and strictly controlled by EHS.  Any Western Employee desiring to use radioactive material shall submit a written proposal and request to the University’s Radiation Safety Officer. 

Please refer to the WWU Radiation Safety Manual for proposal elements and criteria used in the evaluation process. 

Personnel Monitoring and Dosimetry

Personnel monitoring is an essential element of any radiation safety program and is required by state laws

Personnel dosimeters are provided by WWU through the Radiation Safety Office to persons qualified under state laws and are also issued at the discretion of the Radiation Safety Officer.

Radiation Generating Machines

All Radiation Generating Machines (RGM) are regulated by the Washington State Department of Health and must be registered with the state prior to use. The University possesses and EHS manages the registration for these devices. Depending on the type of device and its intended use, there are requirements for facility design, worker training and protection, and device operation.

An RGM is any piece of equipment that, when energized, is designed to emit ionizing radiation or could potentially emit ionizing radiation as a by-product of its operation. These types of devices pose a hazard if not used properly. Certain controls are required to be in place to ensure proper operation, employee safety and human subject safety.

All RGM’s at Western are used for research purposes.  Examples include:

  • X-ray absorptiometry, irradiator, diffraction, spectroscopy and fluorescence units
  • Electron microscopes

Radioactive Waste Management

EHS oversees radioactive material use and disposal under the requirements set by federal and state rules and regulations, and Western’s license issued by the State of Washington Department of Health.  EHS provides training, consultation and resources to ensure safe and compliant storage, packaging, labeling, collection, sampling and disposal of radioactive waste.

Radioactive waste generators are required to:

  • Segregate waste streams by radioisotope and physical form
  • Minimize the volume and activity of radioactive waste
  • Properly package and label waste
  • Submit Radioactive Waste Collection Requests 

These efforts help provide a safe working environment, reduce the volume of waste generated and decrease disposal costs.   For additional information, please refer to the WWU Radiation Safety Manual

Radiological Contamination Surveys

Radiation hazards cannot be evaluated without measurements.  Periodic monitoring and surveying of radiation facilities are essential to a proper radiation safety program.  Radiation surveys are required where radioactive material is used or stored and where radiation producing machines are used.

Each authorized user of radioactive material is required to conduct surveys within their own areas. Radioactive materials laboratories may also be inspected and surveyed by the Radiation Safety Office every six months or more often if the RSO deems more frequent surveys advisable.  The RSO may conduct audits as well to assure that authorized users are conducting their surveys as required.

For additional information, any questions, or to apply for radiation use on campus please refer to the Radiation Safety Manual and contact EHS at (360) 650-2971.

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