The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) holds a Radioactive Materials License issued by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). All use of radioactive sources at U of I must follow the conditions in the license and applicable state and federal laws.

The U of I is committed to protecting the health and safety of its faculty, staff, students, visitors, and environment and to keeping exposures resulting from the use of radioactive sources as low as is reasonably achievable. The Division of Research Safety (DRS) together with the Radiation and Laser Safety Committee (RLSC) manage the Radiation Safety Program outlining requirements for users of radioactive sources and providing guidance for their safe use.

The radiation safety program applies to all University personnel on the Urbana campus and all visiting academic, faculty, staff or students, who use radioactive sources on or off of campus.

Authorization To Use Radioactive Materials

The procurement, possession, or use of radioactive material is permitted only pursuant to a Radiation Permit (permit) issued by DRS. A permit is also required for technologically “enhancing” naturally occurring radioactive material. Principle Investigators and other Responsible Persons with sufficient experience in using radioactive sources can hold a permit.

Radiation Permit Application Process

To apply for a permit complete a Radiation Permit Application and submit to DRS.

DRS reviews the application and may inspect the laboratory and clarify questions to ensure the space, applicant’s experience, and procedures are adequate for the work requested. If satisfactory, DRS will issue the permit specifying quantities, locations and conditions for use of radioactive materials. By agreeing to the permit conditions the applicant acknowledges their acceptance of the responsibilities associated with the permitted activities. The approved permit must be made available to all persons using radiation sources under its provisions.

Once the permit is in effect, procurement of radioactive materials may commence (see Obtaining Radioactive Materials)

Radiation Permit Validity

A permit is valid as long as the conditions in the permit are fulfilled and there is a need for radioactive materials. If no radioactive material usage is planned for several months or more, the Permit holder should request that the permit be deactivated..


Permit holders can request amendments to their permit at any time by notifying DRS of the desired change in writing.

Deactivating/Reactivating a Permit

All spaces listed on a permit must be free of any radioactive material (in the form of contamination, source vials, waste or stored samples) before the permit can be deactivated. Radioactive material must be properly disposed of or transferred to another laboratory with an authorized permit. Laboratory personnel should perform surveys to ensure that no contamination exists and then contact DRS for a final survey. Once all spaces are free of radioactive materials, postings in the laboratory and entrances must be removed.

A deactivated permit can be reactivated by contacting DRS.

Abandoned Radioactive Materials

Campus units are responsible for decontaminating facilities and for identification and proper disposal of radioactive materials abandoned by their personnel.

If unknown or abandoned radioactive materials and/or contamination are discovered, DRS should be contacted immediately.

Radiation Safety Training Requirements

Users of Radioactive Materials

All users of radioactive materials are required to complete the DRS online Radioactive Materials Safety Training at intervals not to exceed 12 months. In addition, PIs or permit holders are responsible for providing specific training on radioactive sources and procedures used in their laboratories. Risk assessment and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are important tools for developing laboratory specific training and policies. Training should include:

  • Health protection problems associated with the isotopes in use;
  • Lab specific precautions and procedures to minimize exposure;
  • Purposes and functions of protective devices and survey meters employed;
  • The permit conditions and requirements;
  • Employee responsibility to promptly report any condition that may lead to or cause a violation of the regulations or cause an unnecessary exposure;
  • Actions to take in the event of an emergency; and,
  • Radiation exposure reports that workers may request.

Particular attention should be given to contamination survey requirements, dosimetry requirements, necessary documentation, safety precautions/equipment, authorized radionuclides, possession limits, precautions during pregnancy, and locations where radioactive materials are authorized. Regulations require that this knowledge be reinforced by annual radiation safety training.

Records of the instruction must be maintained by the Permit Holder for audit by DRS personnel or for inspection by state regulatory personnel.

Radiation Safety Awareness Training

Regulations require annual awareness training for anyone who enters locations where radioactive materials are used or stored. Such individuals are required to watch a brief online video annually: Radiation Safety Awareness Training.

Responsibilities for Radiation Safety

To maintain a safe and healthy working and learning environment the cooperation of the entire campus community is needed. The Radiation and Laser Safety Committee, DRS and Radiation Safety Officer (RSO), Principal Investigators/Permit Holders and department heads, and laboratory workers share the responsibility to achieve this goal.

Worker Responsibilities

The individual user has the final responsibility for the safe use of the radiation sources to which they have access. Users shall be familiar with and comply with all requirements of the Radiation Safety Program applying to their work including:

  1. Keeping their exposure as low as practical by following the guidance in Use of Radioactive Materials
  2. Performing contamination surveys according to their permit conditions.
  3. Addressing spills immediately.
  4. Proper waste management and disposal
  5. Preventing unauthorized persons from having access to radiation sources in their area.
  6. Wear assigned personnel monitoring devices in an approved manner;
  7. Notify and seek the assistance of their supervisor and DRS as soon as possible in emergencies.
  8. Take no action that would interfere with the responsibilities of their laboratory supervisor.
  9. Notify their supervisor immediately of any last, stolen, or missing source of radiation.

Permit Holder and Unit Head Responsibilities

In addition to assuming all the responsibilities of an individual radiation user, the Permit Holder must:

  1. Be responsible for ensuring that all personnel, particularly new personnel, who have access to radiation sources under his/her jurisdiction, are properly instructed and that they possess the necessary skills and disposition to cope with radiation safely. The minimum training requirements are outlined in the section above.
  2. Determine the types of radiation sources, equipment, facilities, and procedures needed for his/her work.
  3. Comply with all radiation permit requirements.
  4. Ensure that the procedures for purchase, acquisition, use, and transfer of radioactive materials are followed in work under his/her supervision. This includes keeping accurate inventory and disposal records.
  5. Routinely check protective equipment and instruments to ensure they are working properly and adequately performing their intended functions.
  6. Work with DRS to solve radiation safety problems unique to his/her situation and to correct violations of federal, state or local rules and regulations.
  7. Assist DRS in complying with existing laws and license requirements (maintenance of records, preparation of reports) by providing necessary information and assistance.
  8. Obtain prior approval of the campus radiation safety officer before any individual under age 18 is allowed to work in a radiation laboratory.
  9. Report lost, stolen, or missing sources of radiation to DRS. DRS is required to notify state regulators within 24 hours after when the absence becomes known.
  10. Inform DRS of an intention to cease using radioactive material, an extended departure from campus is planned, or if there is any reason the obligations in their radiation permit cannot be met
  11. When away from campus for an extended period, ensure that radioactive materials and work involving radiation sources receive adequate supervision. A Permit Holder that will be absent from his or her laboratory for a period of three months or longer must designate a temporary supervisor and inform DRS in writing of this designation. The education, training, and administrative authority of the person designated as temporary supervisor must be sufficient to ensure that all safety requirements will be met and must be acceptable to DRS..
  12. Unit heads must inform DRS whenever any radiation Permit Holder of their unit will be absent from campus for more than three months and whenever there are circumstances that might require additional assistance from DRS (e.g., temporary disability).

Radiation and Laser Safety Committee Responsibilities

The Radiation and Laser Safety Committee advises the Chancellor through the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and DRS on matters related to the campus radiation safety program. The Committee is composed of academic staff and faculty members representing various areas of research and teaching, and members who represent the campus administration including the campus RSO.

The Chancellor delegates authority to the Committee to oversee the use of radiation sources throughout the campus.  The Committee has the authority to allow, deny, or revoke authorization for individuals to obtain and use radiation sources at the U of I.

The responsibilities of the Radiation and Laser Safety Committee include the following:

  1. Review proposals for unusually hazardous uses of radiation sources as deemed by the RSO, and establish criteria for equipment and procedures to ensure employee, student, and public safety.
  2. Review cases that involve repeated infractions of the rules and regulations for protection against radiation, including lasers.
  3. Review accidents that may involve exposure or serious economic loss and other cases for which reports to outside regulatory authorities are required.
  4. Review public relation problems that involve radiation sources and lasers.
  5. Review appeals from radiation users and modify rules or the decisions of DRS personnel where necessary.
  6. Meet formally as often as necessary, but at least four times per year, to review the campus radiation safety program with DRS personnel.
  7. Recommend the establishment or modification of campus radiation and laser safety policies.
  8. Work with DRS to effectively use electronic communication to keep committee members abreast of unusual events between committee meetings.
  9. Review communications between DRS and government agencies that affect the campus radiation safety program and the campus radioactive materials license.

Division of Research Safety Responsibilities

  1. Provide advice and assistance to everyone concerned on all aspects of radiation safety.
  2. Approve proposals for procurement, use and transfer of radiation sources except proposals involving unfamiliar or extreme hazards that DRS judges as requiring review by the Committee.
  3. Receive and monitor all shipments of radioactive materials, deliver acceptable incoming shipments to the end user, and ensure that outgoing shipments conform to shipping regulations.
  4. Maintain permanent records of receipt, use, transfer, and disposal of radioactive materials.
  5. Supervise and assist in disposal of radioactive wastes.
  6. Assign personnel monitoring devices (e.g., film badges, dosimeters) when necessary, give instructions in their use, and maintain personnel monitoring records.
  7. Check radiation monitoring and survey instruments for proper operation and calibrate as often as necessary.
  8. Assist in designing and selecting equipment, shielding, and facilities and in formulating or modifying operating procedures for new or existing installations or buildings.
  9. Calculate the levels of radiation intensity, time limits of personnel exposure, and minimum working distance around accelerators, reactors, X-ray machines, and other intense radiation sources.
  10. Perform and keep records of leak tests on sealed sources.
  11. Make and keep records of systematic surveys in areas where the presence of radiation or contamination of surfaces, air, or water is suspected, and notify the area supervisor of the results. In some cases this may require detailed monitoring of an operation from beginning to end by a DRS staff member.
  12. Report hazardous radiological conditions promptly to the responsible individual and, when necessary, to the immediate supervisor and the Radiation and Laser Safety Committee.
  13. Supervise and assist in decontamination of all but minor spills.
  14. Schedule routine medical examinations in accordance with established policy; help establish criteria, and make arrangements for such examinations as may be required in emergency situations.
  15. Enforce all written directives of the Committee.
  16. Stop any operation or deny access of any individual to radiation sources in the interest of safety. Such action must be reported verbally and in writing to the Committee as soon as possible.
  17. Grant exemptions to the rules (or impose more stringent restrictions) in emergency situations when, in the judgment of DRS, such action is necessary to reduce risk of serious injury or economic loss. Such actions must be reported verbally and in writing to the Committee as soon as possible.
  18. Maintain files of federal, state, and local licenses and registrations concerned with radiation sources and initiate applications for renewals and/or amendments of same.
  19. Determine whether a radiation incident requires a report to any governing body and prepare such reports for the approval of the Committee. Exception: If an immediate report is required, the campus radiation safety officer must (with knowledge and approval of the chairman if possible) file such report with the appropriate authorities and shall provide copies to the Committee.
  20. Be familiar with the federal, state, and local laws relating to radiation and be aware of changes in such laws as they occur. Inform the Committee when such changes suggest modifications of policy and institute necessary changes in the radiation safety program


Radiation Safety Manual 

Last Updated: 1/21/2022