Radiation Safety


Radiation can be defined as energy traveling through space. There are two types of radiation, ionizing and non-ionizing, which are differentiated by how they interact with matter. Non-ionizing radiation (e.g. heat, visible light) is essential to life, but excessive exposures can cause tissue damage. All forms of ionizing radiation have sufficient energy to ionize atoms and potentially cause damage to DNA.

Ionizing radiation sources are found in a wide range of occupational settings. Proper controls must be in place in order to protect the health of workers in these areas.

Applicable Regulation

The use of radiation at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is governed by the laws of the State of New York Department of Health (New York State Sanitary Code Chapter 1, Part 16) in accordance with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Under these regulatory agencies, certain requirements and regulations must be satisfied before and during use of radioactive materials and radiation producing equipment. In compliance with State code, there exists a Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) and Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) who are responsible for overseeing the use of radiation on the RIT campus and enforcing pertinent regulations.

Radiation Responsibility

There are several groups of individuals with varying levels of responsibilities when it comes to radiation requirements at RIT. The following sections provide a description of each impacted individual and/or group of individuals. Please review the RIT Radiation Safety Manual in order to better understand the specific responsibilities assigned to each.

In accordance with the regulations governing ionizing radiation, RIT maintains a license and registration related to radiation sources and radiation producing equipment. These must be updated prior to any new radiation source coming on site and prior to the installation of a piece of radiation producing equipment. The RSO must be contacted as soon as possible in order to initiate a modification to the existing license, if needed, for all new materials expected to come to campus.

Radiation Safety Committee

A committee on Radiation Safety has been established to give continual recognition to policies, problems, and potential hazards related to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation at RIT. The Committee is responsible to the Provost for the care and control of all radionuclides and radiation-producing equipment at RIT so as to ensure radiation safety and protection for all RIT employees, students, and visitors, and to ensure compliance with applicable State and Federal Codes.

Included in the membership of the Committee are the Radiation Safety Officer, representatives from: Management, sponsored research, and each department using ionizing radiation, and other persons whose fields of expertise compliment the functions of the Committee.

Radiation Safety Officer

The Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) is responsible for ensuring the safety of work areas where radioactive material or radiation producing equipment is used. The RSO must ensure that radiation exposures are kept as low as reasonably achievable, and that compliance with Institute, State, and Federal regulations is maintained.

Principal Investigators

Principal Investigators are individuals who are authorized to order, possess, and use certain radioactive materials. All persons requesting to use radiation sources and radioactive materials must have a basic knowledge concerning the safe handling of radiation and radioactive materials. The maximum quantity allowed onsite of any given radionuclide as approved by the State is specified in the RIT license. Proposed modifications to this list can be made by a Principal Investigator submitting appropriate justification to the RSO. If approved by the RSO and the RSC, the request for modification is then forwarded to the State for approval.

Individual Users

Individual Users are faculty, research assistants, technicians, and students who have contact with any source of ionizing radiation. Before working with any source of radiation, users shall have been instructed in the safe handling and use of radioactive materials and/or radiation producing equipment and radiation safety principles. Documentation of this instruction is kept on file by the Center for Professional Development (CPD).


A visitor is defined as any individual who is not routinely issued a personal monitoring device. This includes students, Institute employees, and persons from outside the campus community. Visitors are not permitted in any laboratory using radioactive materials unless accompanied by a qualified individual familiar with the hazards involved. When appropriate, visitors shall be issued a personal monitoring device when they enter an area in which radioactive materials or radiation producing equipment is being used. A record of this exposure will be kept on file with the RSO.

Training Requirements

RIT's Environmental Health and Safety Department shall make all efforts to ensure that users of radioactive materials and/or radiation producing equipment are provided with the necessary information and training that will enable them to work with these materials in a safe manner. RIT requires annual Radiation Safety Training for all faculty, students, and staff who use radioactive sources or radiation producing equipment on RIT's campus.