Radiation Safety Program

The mission of the Radiation Safety Program at MSU is to ensure a safe environment for individuals working with ionizing radiation and to ensure the protection of the community and environment by limiting exposure to the hazards of ionizing radiation. To accomplish this, the Radiation Safety Program provides technical advice to Principal Investigators on laboratory containment, security, and safety procedures. 

The Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) is responsible for ensuring that individuals working with radioactive materials or radiation producing equipment are monitored for and protected from physical exposures to radiation. There exists specific limits to occupational radiation exposures, and those limits are enforceable by Federal law. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is the rule-making body that promulgates and enforces the radiation protection regulations in the United States.

MSU has a Broadscope Type A license which allows a variety of radioactive material research to be conducted.  MSU is under the Nuclear Regulatory Committee’s jurisdiction and, as such, is required to maintain compliance with Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20 (10 CFR 20) regulations governing radioactive material. If you have any questions concerning radioactive material use at MSU, contact the RSO at (406) 994-7317.

Application Process

Prior to beginning any radioactive material work, Principle Investigator’s (PI) must submit a protocol which is then reviewed by the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC). The RSC is composed of a variety of PIs across campus. Once approved, PIs must maintain lab safety oversight including correcting any discrepancies. 

Radioactive Package Deliveries

All packages containing radioactive material must be checked for contamination within 3 hours of receipt per Department of Transportation Regulations. Therefore, all radioactive materials must be shipped directly to the RSO at the address below:

Montana State University
Radiation Safety Officer
Attn: Authorized PI
1160 Research Drive
Bozeman, MT 59718
international radiation warning symbol - pink on yellow
                                           mailed box of radioactive material labeled "UN 2910"


In the event you receive a package labeled "radioactive," "UN 2910," or with the radiation symbol, do not accept it!

Personnel Monitoring

The University is required to monitor exposures to radiation and radioactive material at levels sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the occupational dose limits as specified in Title 10 CFR 20.

At a minimum: 
The RSO is responsible for developing proposed criteria, procedures, and documentation requirements for personnel monitoring. Both extremity and whole body doses are monitored, as well as internal dose, as necessary. The Radiation Safety Committee shall review all such requirements, and must concur before they are implemented.

Radioactive Materials Handling Guidelines

Only approved laboratories are permitted to have radioactive materials. The general laboratory safety rules when working with radioactive materials include:

  • No Eating, Drinking, Smoking, Chewing, Applying Cosmetics.
  • Wear gloves, closed-toed shoes, safety classes and lab coats.
  • Dosimetry issued must be worn in the appropriate location, e.g. finger.
  • All equipment used for radioactive material work must be labeled appropriately.
  • Appropriate detection equipment must be used during work. 
  • Areas used must be monitored for contamination.
  • Waste must be collected only.  RSO will handle disposal.

Radioactive & Mixed Waste Disposal

It is the University’s policy to minimize all radioactive waste, especially mixed waste (radioactive and hazardous waste combined).  Drain disposal is not permitted for AUs. You must complete a radioactive waste request form once you have waste ready for pick-up.  All radioactive/mixed waste must be collected and placed in an appropriate container as shown below:

Waste Form Waste Container
Dry Solids 1.5 cubic foot cardboard box
Aqueous Liquids 1,2,4,10,15, 20 L plastic carboys
Non-aqueous Liquids Shatterproof glass jugs
Vials (empty or full) 1.5 cubic foot cardboard box
Sharps Sharps container labeled "Radioactive"

Note: All Biological Waste must be autoclaved prior to pick-up. The RSO will provide all waste containers except the shatterproof glass jugs for mixed waste.


In the event of an emergency involving radioactive materials please call the appropriate personnel below:

Contact Title Work Cell
Nick Childs Radiation Safety Officer 994-7317  
Patrick Ryan Chemical Safety Officer 994-7803 570-9140
Ryan Brickman Interim Director, Safety & Risk Management 994-7760  
University Police Dispatch 994-2121  
Bozeman Fire Department Emergency 911 582-2350  
Bozeman Police Department Emergency 911 582-2000  

Any personnel desiring to begin radioactive material work must become "Approved Users" (AU), must work under an "Approved" PI, and must complete a Radiation Safety Training course prior to beginning work. The courses consist of basic radiation safety, MSU Rules and Regulations, and hands-on training with instruments and small radioactive sources. 

Radiation Safety Training

Click the course titles below to view course information. All courses are offered by Request

Description: This course covers the basic fundamentals of X/Gamma ray usage. 
Duration: 1 Hour 
Intended Audience: Training for operators and support staff using radiation generating equipment 
Prerequisites: None 
How you will benefit: At the conclusion of the course you will understand the following topics pertinent to your specific job function:

  • Applicable regulations
  • Operator responsibilities
  • Potential radiation hazards in work areas
  • Steps to minimize exposure (ALARA)
  • Operator safety
  • Basic radiation biology
  • Risk estimates, including caparison with other health risk
  • Radiation effects on skin
  • Policy on radiation and pregnancy
  • Recording of beam usage time
  • Reporting high or accidental exposures
  • Occupational dose limits and proper use of dosimetry
  • Department-specific work rules
  • Policy on transporting radiation producing machines
  • Procedure risks

Course Materials: Participants will receive a packet with course related information. 
Completion Information: Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be eligible to work with X/Gamma ray emitting equipment. Training certificates are available upon request.

Description: This course covers the basic fundamentals of radiation and radiation safety
Duration: 1 Hour
Intended Audience: Ancillary personnel are defined as workers who enter radiation use areas to perform their duties but have no direct use of radioactive material or radiation producing machines. 
Prerequisites: None 
How you will benefit: At the conclusion of the course you will understand the following in regards to radiation safety: 

  • Potential radiation hazards in each area where the employees will work
  • Posting requirements of areas where radioactive material /radiation is used and/or stored
  • Basic radiation protection to include concepts of time, distance, and shielding
  • Contact information for reporting unsafe conditions to the ORC

Course Materials: Participants will receive a packet with course related information. 
Completion Information: Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be eligible to work in proximity radioactive material or radiation generating equipment.

 Description: This is a mandatory course for laboratory workers with direct use of radioactive materials and PIs overseeing radiation work. The course covers basic radiation fundamentals and safety, as well as MSU rules governing the use of these materials. 
Duration: 3.5 Hours 
Intended Audience: Individuals handling, disposing of, and storing Radioactive Materials. All individuals taking this course must also take Laboratory Safety for Laboratory Workers (or equivalent) to work in a lab setting. 
Prerequisites: None 
How you will benefit: At the conclusion of the course you will understand the following in regards to radiation safety: 
  • Applicable regulations
  • Atomic structure
  • Alpha, beta, and gamma radiation
  • Radioactivity units
  • Radioactive decay
  • Background radiation
  • Steps to minimize exposure (ALARA)
  • Radiation protection principles
  • Radiation surveys
  • Radiation inventory
  • Recordkeeping
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Waste disposal
  • Policy on transporting radioactive material
  • Occupational dose limits and proper use of dosimetry
  • Policy on radiation and pregnancy
  • Purchase, receipt, and storage of radioactive material
  • Radiation instrumentation
  • Spill and contamination procedure (non-emergency)
  • Emergency response
Course Materials: Participants will receive a packet with course related information. The course will also offer verbal discussion and interactive scenarios. 
Completion Information: Upon completion of the course and passing the written exam, participants will be added to their Principle Investigator's Authorization and be allowed to work with Radioactive Materials at MSU. A certification from this course is valid for 3 years.
 Description: This refresher course gives an overview of the Radiation Safety for RAM Laboratory Workers course including basic radiation principles, safe use, and safe handling principles. The course also offers the participant to ask any questions pertaining to Radioactive Materials, Nuclear Gauges, or related principles. 
Duration: 1 Hour
Intended Audience: Authorized users of Radioactive Materials 
Prerequisites: Radiation Safety for RAM Laboratory Workers or Nuclear Gauge Safety 
How you will benefit: At the conclusion of the course you will be able to: 
  • Identify types of radiation
  • Identify sources of radiation
  • Identify and appropriately use Personal Protective Equipment
  • Know procedures for disposing of Radioactive Materials
  • Use a survey meter to understand contamination levels
  • Decontaminate surfaces
  • Store RAM
Course Materials: Attendees will be engaged in discussion and question/answer segments. No handouts will be issued unless requested. 
Completion Information: Upon completion of the course, the attendee may continue to use Radioactive Materials under their authorized PI. A certification from this course is valid for 1 year. 


Forms for Principal Investigators (PI's) and Authorized Users (AU's)


Laser Safety