Science & Research

Volume IV - 12.2 Radiation Safety

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Orientation and Training
Food and Drug Administration

Section 12 - Radioactivity

A. Objective

To familiarize the trainee with the safety issues inherent within the radionuclide section’s activities. All new hires are given basic radiation safety training covering the following topics: radiation exposure to man, sources of radiation, biological effects of radiation, radiation protection guides, and safety.

The Basic Radiation Safety Course, a more comprehensive study than the new-hire course, covers the topics found in Section 12.2.B.

B. Assignment

The Basic Radiation Safety Course, offered to scientists and investigators, includes the following:

  1. Radiation Exposure to Man

    Identification of natural and man-made sources of radiation and their contribution to background radiation levels are discussed.

  2. Review of atomic structure and radioactivity

    The basic structure of the atom, atomic nomenclature, units of nuclear mass and energy, the definition of an element and isotope are discussed. The types of radioactive emissions (including alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays) are defined.

  3. Interaction of radiation with matter

    Charged particles interactions (ionization, excitation and bremsstrahlung), photon interactions with atoms are discussed.

  4. Units of Radioactivity and Radiation

    Radioactive decay, the rate of radioactive decay (half-life), and units used to measure decay rate are defined.

  5. Correlation of Units of Activity, Exposure, and Biological Effects

    Units of measure for radioactivity, exposure, dose, and dose rate are defined. Problem solving exercises demonstrate the calculation of exposure rate resulting from an external source of radioactive material. The biological effects (somatic and genetic effects, acute and chronic effects, and threshold and non-threshold effects) are discussed.

  6. Basic Principles of Radiation Detection Instruments, Personnel Monitoring and Radiation Survey Instruments

    Instruments that measure the presence of radiation include personnel monitoring instruments, survey instruments, and laboratory instruments. The instrument’s theory of operation and its applications are discussed. See Section 12.3 for “Laboratory Instruments for Radioactivity Measurement.”

  7. Radiation Protection Guides and Dose Limits

    Radiation protection guides, the “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) principle, and dose limits are discussed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Agreement States, and the Environmental Protection Agency are the principal guide limit authorities.

  8. Principles of Radiation Protection

    The basic principles of protecting personnel from ionizing radiation will depend upon the type and energy of radiation, and intensity and location of the source. External radiation hazards are controlled through time, distance, and shielding. Contamination control (containment and cleanliness) prevents internal radiation exposure. The purpose of surveys is discussed.

  9. Regulatory Issues:

    Management of Radioactive WastesThe regulations pertaining to the management of radioactive waste are provided by NRC in Title 10, Part 20 (Energy) of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

    Transportation of Radioactive Materials

    The regulations pertaining to the transportation of radioactive materials are provided by NRC in Title 10, Part 20, and also Title 49 (Transportation) of the CFR.

    Receiving of Radioactive Packages

    A model procedure is found in the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Regulatory Guide10.8, Appendix L.

C. Questions

  1. Define the term “atom.” Explain what the “A” & “Z” numbers of an isotope represent.
  2. Discuss the characteristics of alpha-particle decay, beta-particle decay, gamma-ray and x-ray emission. Which types of radiation have an electrical charge? Discuss the difference between x-ray and gamma ray emission.
  3. Define “ionization.”
  4. Describe the three ways in which photons interact with atoms.
  5. What is the difference between genetic and somatic effects of ionizing radiation?
  6. Define the threshold theory and the linear non-threshold theory.
  7. Describe the principal types of personal dosimetry; discuss the use of control badges. What is found in the WEAC Radiation Safety Program for personal dosimetry?
  8. Define the three methods used for minimizing radiation exposure.
  9. Define “survey.” What type of surveys are found in the WEAC Radiation Safety Program?
  10. Describe how requests for radioactive standards are purchased at WEAC.
  11. Describe how packages are screened for radioactivity at WEAC.

D. References

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (current edition). RH102 FDA Basic radiation safety course resource manual
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (current edition) ORA Radiation Safety Manual SOP
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (current edition) Winchester Engineering and Analytical Center Radiation Safety Manual SOP
  4. Friedlander, G., Kennedy, J., Macias, E., Miller, J. (1981). Nuclear and radiochemistry (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.


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