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Working with ionising radiation


Three types of sources of ionising radiation are used at the university: open sources, sealed sources, and x-rays.  There are different risks and procedures for each of these types and you need to understand those for the kind of source you will be using in order to keep yourself and others safe.


Ionising radiation is radiation that has the power to charge (ionise) atoms.

In the human body this ionisation can cause adverse health effects such as the induction of cancer.  The risk of an adverse health effect is related to the level of exposure to radiation and the risks are therefore controlled by limiting the exposure of workers to radiation.

In the University this is done by using appropriately designed facilities and equipment, safe working procedures and the training of workers.

Key things you need to know about working with ionising radiation:

All sources of ionising radiation are subject to stringent control measures. Below is the key information you will need if planning on working with them:

  • All projects involving sources of ionising radiation must be discussed with your Principal Investigator (PI) and Radiation Safety Coordinator (RSC).

  • You will need to register with the Radiation Protection Service via RSID (unless using low risk sources such as x-ray equipment or small sealed sources).

  • You will need to complete radiation safety training before beginning work.

  • You will need to read the appropriate risk assessment for the type of sources you will be using (if using open sources you will also need to complete a dose risk assessment on RSID).

  • You must follow the local rules and/or safe operating procedures for your sources.

To find out more about the risks and safe operating procedures for each type of ionising radiation, follow the links on the left-hand menu.

Contact the Radiation Protection Manager if you need more guidance or advice.