Machines and sealed/contained sources that produce ionizing radiation are common in research labs. Radiation sources can take many forms, from high-energy accelerators that require special shielding as well as extensive engineering and administrative controls, to sedimeters that produce x-rays of such low energy and intensity that minimal controls are required. This wide variation in sources makes it difficult to write detailed guidelines for all radiation sources and emphasizes the importance of involving the facility Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) or designee in the processes related to design, installation, acceptance testing, and operation of all such sources.

The purpose of this chapter is to identify common radiation sources that produce ionizing radiation (machines or sealed/contained radioactive sources) at research facilities and to give general guidelines regarding the planning, installation, storage, and use of these sources. For details, always refer to the facility RSO or designee.

Though these recommendations deal mostly with radiation sources found in research facilities, most campuses have medical x-ray facilities as well (e.g., hospitals, medical and dental clinics); therefore, limited comments regarding these facilities have been included. Typical sources include:

  • Machines:
    • X-ray radiographic and/or irradiation facilities
    • Accelerator facilities
    • Analytical x-ray machines (e.g., x-ray diffraction, electron microscopes)
    • Cabinet radiography units
    • Accelerators used for radioisotope production
  • Radioactive Materials Sources:
    • Sealed sources
    • Irradiators
    • Moisture/density gauges
    • Contained sources (sources used to irradiate, but do not satisfy the requirements of a sealed source)