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This website provides a first point of contact for infomation on radiation safety for staff and students at University of Galway. In using ionising radiation in our research and teaching on campus, we wish to maximise the net benefit in using radioactive materials or radiation producing instrumentation whilst protecting all staff, students, the public and the environment.
Applications of ionising radiation using either X-rays or radionuclides are an essential part of research and teaching. Any use of ionising radiation, however, carries intrinsic risks and hence its use is regulated to ensure the safety of people. Irish legislation on the safe use of ionising radiation is based on the European Union Basic Safety Standards (BSS) Directive (Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM):
- This Directive has been transposed into Irish law through the Ionising Radiation Regulations of 2019 (S.I. No. 30 of 2019), hereafter referred to as IRR19.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the competent authority for IRR19.
All ionising radiation use is subject to IRR19. The University of Galway is authorised by the EPA to use specific ionising radiation sources in specific practices under licence L0001-04.
IRR19 sets out the system of regulatory control covering the use of ionising radiation in Ireland. This system is based on the follow principles:
- Any use of ionising radiation liable to result in exposure of people shall be justified.
- Arrangements to protect people from the harmful effects of radiation shall be optimised with the aim of keeping doses as low as reasonably achievable, taking into account the current state of technical knowledge and economic and societal factors.
- Doses to people shall be kept below the statutory dose limits.
- All justified uses of ionising radiation are subject to regulatory control by the EPA. Regulatory control is intended to ensure that the risks associated with a radiological practice are effectively managed on an ongoing basis
Regulatory control, depicted in the figure (copyright EPA), is intended to ensure that the risks associated with a radiological practice are effectively managed on an ongoing basis.
For any queries or information , contact the University's Radiation Protection Officer Dr. Oliver Ryan, and/or the Deputy RPO Prof. Heinz-Peter Nasheuer via
- this shared email address: RPO@universityofgalway.ie
- Dr. Oliver Ryan, telephone 091 494155 (from off-campus) or 4155 (internal extension number)
- Prof. Heinz-Peter Nasheuer, telephone 091 492430 (from off-campus) or 2430 (internal extension number)
All purchases, uses, storage, transport, disposal of any radioactive material or radiation producing device (regardless of its activity or intended use, whether it's sealed/unsealed or contained within a greater instrument/device), must be pre-approved by the RPO. All prospective users of ionising radiation must in the first instance contact the RPO to arrange training.
For training you will first be enrolled in Canvas module AH0145 Radiation Awareness and Safety Training which is a module for mandatory initial and refresher training in the safe use of ionising radiation in teaching and/or research for University of Galway staff and students who use or are expected to use ionising radiation. There you watch training videos and take an MCQ exam. Practical onsite training for your area of work will be given by the local RPS once the MCQ is done.
Please use the link below to navigate to internal pages site but note that they are accessible only from on-campus networked PCs; for off-campus access, please contact the RPO.
Internal site link : Radiation Safety
See also the Health and Safety site for other information: Health & Safety Office
Working with radioactive materials
If you are intending to work with radioactive isotopes there are a number of steps to carry out before commencing any work:
- Speak to your local Radiation Protection Supervisor and seek their advice and guidance. Ensure that the work you are intending to undertake has grounds for justification.
- Notify the RPO of your intentions. You must be a registered user before commencing work.
- Persons who have no previous experience in the use of radioisotopes must go through the working routines thoroughly. It is forbidden to commence work without familiarising yourself with the procedures in the laboratory. Those intending to use radioisotopes must attend the Radiological Safety Course held in the University in early January or any other recognised radiation safety course. This course gives an introduction to radiation safety and practice. Contact the RPO for details.
The University RPO may only consider the use of radioisotopes if the following information is available:
- Only radioisotopes licensed to the facility may be ordered and can only be ordered after they have been approved. It is the duty of a user of a potentially new radioisotope to check with the RPO to see if that radioisotope is listed on the licence and in the quantity that is intended for use.
- The radiotoxicity of the radioisotope and the name(s) of the labelled compound(s).
- Details of all the procedures involved (e.g. storage, dilution, centrifugation etc.) and the nature of the materials (e.g. solid powders).
- The maximum activity used for each procedure and an accounting of where the radioactivity is at the end of the procedure. This is important for proper management of waste materials.
- Any bio-hazards and chemically hazardous compounds.
General guidelines for users
- The minimum amount of radioisotope must be used consistent with the efficient performance of the task at hand (ALARA). For each new project or experimental involving radioisotopes a detailed protocol must be written and approved by the radiological protection officer. Information on the use of appropriate safety equipment and proper shielding should be provided. Advice should be sought from other users of radioisotopes to avoid common pitfalls.
- Records of the reception of each shipment of radioisotope must be kept. A card/form must be filled out for each radioisotope shipment and on which details of each aliquot taken are entered. Each shipment of radioactivity must be swabbed to determine that no leakage or contamination has occurred before or during transit. It is the responsiblity of the person who ordered the radioisotope to keep all records for that shipment.
- Clearly marked containers should be used for radioactive compounds and kept in a definite area. Radioactive compounds kept for storage (e.g. in fridges or freezers) must be labeled with the name of the user, name and quantity of radioisotope is essential.
- All radioactive tape and labels should be defaced prior to be being put in the specially designed waste containers and stored in appropriate period until disposed.
Ordering radioactive materials
When ordering radioactive materials from another country it is necessary to fill out Annex I of Council Regulation (Euratom) No. 1493/93 on the shipment of radioactive substances between Member States. Contact the RPO.
An incoming isotope form must be completed and returned to the RPO whenever a radioactive substance has been delivered to the University. Contact the RPO.
Radioisotopes not on the licence
Isotopes not on the licence must not be used without seeking an amendment to the licence. Notification to import and work with another isotope must be forwarded in writing one month in advance to the EPA Office of Radiological Protection. Contact the RPO.
Working with unsealed radioisotopes
Those commencing work must carefully read the Univeristy Local Rules for the Protection of Persons Exposed to Ionising Radiations. Together with the local Radiation Protection Supervisor they must complete the 'working with unsealed radioisotopes form' and return the form to the RPO. Contact the RPO.
Working with x-ray equipment
Those commencing work must carefully read the Univeristy Local Rules for the Protection of Persons Exposed to Ionising Radiations. Together with the Departmental Radiation Supervisor they must complete the 'working with X-ray equipment form' and return to the RPO. Contact the RPO.
Those involved with iodinations must carefully read the local rules, in particular section 9 - Precautions with iodinations. Records must also be completed and returned to the RPO.
- Most activities involving radioactive material will result in some waste. How waste is disposed of depends on whether it is sealed or unsealed. With sealed sources they have to be sent back to their supplier (or their successor). An agreement to this effect has to be made prior to purchasing the source. If this is not possible then the material has to be stored locally until it can be disposed of.
- Unsealed sources differ in that using the source tends to change the nature of the source. Unsealed sources can exist in solid, liquid or gaseous form. Since they have been changed by the user, the manufacturers will not accept them back. This results in the build-up of radioactive materials on-site. However, if material has a short half-life it will eventually decay away and become non-radioactive. The problem is when can you define the material as being non-radioactive? It is necessary to use Statutory Instrument 125 (2000) to define when the material is not radioactive. Using Table A of Schedule 5 of S.I. 125, if the material has an activity less than that in column 2 and with a concentration less than that in column 3, it can be disposed of into either landfill, burning or (if liquid and aqueous) down a foul-water sewer. However, the method of disposal must not result in further concentration of radioactivity.
Records must be maintained of the ways in which radioisotopes are used and disposed of. All radiation labels and markings must be removed prior to disposal. No disposals may be carried out except by permission of the local RPS acting in consultation with the RPO. A safe storage place is a place designated as such by the RPO.
The goal of the decommissioning process is to ensure that intermediate (movers, construction workers etc.) and future users of the laboratory are not exposed to unacceptable levels of radiation or radioactive contamination. Only experienced persons who have a thorough knowledge of decommissioning and decontamination procedures should be allowed to carry out the process. Contact the RPO.
The University Locals Rules must be read carefully prior to starting work with radioactive materials. Section 8 covers emergency procedures.
Accidents/Incidents must be reported immediately to the RPO and local RPS and within 24 hours to the EPA Office of Radiological Protection. Incidents may be reported by phone. According to Article 41 of S.I. No. 125 of 2000, incidents that must be reported include the loss, theft or other misappropriation of any radioactive substance or X-ray equipment held by the licensee.
When an accident/incident occurs the appropriate form must be completed and returned to the RPO.