Radiation Safety

It is particularly important that workers proposing to use sealed or open sources (e.g. radioactive labelling experiments) seek advice from OSHE at an early stage (e.g. before submitting a grant application). This is necessary to ensure that the proposed work can be safely carried out in the department and that sufficient overheads are included in the grant application to cover the costs of handling the radioactive materials involved. Application forms for radiation worker licence can be obtained under Forms at this website or at the Health Sciences Authority website at


Users of X-ray generators

Training for the X-ray generators is provided by the respective CMMAC facility. For those intending to purchase their own X-ray generators, contact the Faculty Safety Officer for licencing advice.


Users of sealed or open sources of ionising radiation

Contact the Faculty Safety Officer for advice and licence requirements. This category includes all sealed radioactive sources that might for example be used to calibrate equipment.

Unsealed radiation sources typically consist of small volumes of organic or inorganic chemicals or carrier-free solutions containing radionuclides. The contents of these unsealed sources are readily accessible to the user. Most come in liquid form, with potential for spills, splashes, aerosolization, and vaporization.

From a safety standpoint, controlling contamination imposes the most stringent requirements on handling the majority of unsealed sources. Some high-energy beta emitters and some gamma emitters need to be handled cautiously to prevent unnecessary dose as well as prevent contamination. A good starting point is general housekeeping in the laboratory including proper organization and storage of chemicals and tools, adequate space in which to work, a clutter-free environment, and ease of access to sinks, eyewash stations and safety showers. Keep fumehoods free of clutter, especially at the face and floor of the hood where the air flow may be disrupted. Work well inside the hood--not right at the hood face--and keep your face out of the hood.

Good personal hygiene can protect you from unnecessary dose. Wash hands thoroughly after every procedure and before leaving the laboratory.

Always wear protective clothing and equipment. Gloves shall be worn every time you handle vessels containing radioactive material (and those that may be contaminated). Select gloves which are most appropriate for the chemical hazard. Never wear disposable gloves outside of the lab. Lab coats shall always be worn when there is a potential for exposure to hazardous materials. Lab coats shall be removed upon leaving the lab when there is a potential of contamination from a hazardous material on the lab coat. Keep lab coats buttoned up. Approved eye protection shall be worn when there is a potential exposure to the eyes from any hazardous material.

Double containers shall always be used to transport radioactive materials. A second, outer container with absorbent material will cushion a dropped sample or broken vessel. Establish a designated radiation work area and make sure that vessels, tools, and equipment used for radioactive materials work are labeled and stay in that area. Protect the work area with plastic-backed absorbent paper. Work on a tray that is also lined with absorbent paper. 
Label all containers that hold or are contaminated with radioactive material.