Montana State University
Safety and Risk Management > Radiation Safety

Radiation Safety

What is Radiation Safety

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 exist 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.

Radiation Safety Program

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 an Application 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. 


Any personnel desiring to begin radioactive material work must become "Approved Users" (AU) and must work under an "Approved" PI and must complete the Radiation Safety Training course prior to beginning work.   The course consists of:

  • Basic Radiation Safety
  • MSU Rules/Regulations
  • Hands-on training with instruments and small radioactive sources

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

Radioactive Package Radiation Symbol

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
Office of Research Compliance
Radiation Safety Officer 994-7317
Patrick Ryan
Chemical Safety Officer 994-7803 570-9140
Chris Catlett
Interim Director, Safety & Risk Management 994-4146  
University Police
Dispatch 994-2121  
Bozeman Fire Department
Emergency 911 582-2350  
Bozeman Police Department
Emergency 911 582-2000  

Contact Information:

Office of Research Compliance
Radiation Safety
Phone: (406) 994-7317