Use of Radioactive Materials

Policy Summary

It is the policy of the university to comply with all federal and local regulations, as well as the terms of the license granted to GW by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), when ordering, receiving, storing, handling, transferring or disposing of any radioactive material (RAM). The purpose of this policy is to promote the safe use and handling of RAM and radiation producing machines throughout the university in accordance with federal and local regulations. This policy, and associated publications and procedures are required by the NRC to control use, inventories and possession limits.

Related Regulations

The NRC requirements can be found in applicable parts of Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations. Regulations of the U. S. Departments of Transportation, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency also apply. 

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission 

Who is Governed by this Policy 

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Faculty


The university has appointed a Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) working within the Office of Laboratory Safety (OLS) to administer the radiation safety program, which includes radioactive isotopes, sealed sources, radiation emitting machines and any other source of ionizing radiation.   

Requests for RAM must be approved by OLS, which will coordinate delivery to the Authorized User (AU). All AUs must complete Radiation Safety training prior to being approved to use RAM, as well as annual refresher training to keep current on radiation safety and any changes to the Radiation Safety program.  AUs must be approved by both the university’s Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) and RSO. 

All proposed use of RAM must be reviewed and approved by the university’s RSC prior to the start of the activity.  All RAM use must be conducted under the oversight of an AU.  Those who want to use RAM under the supervision of an AU also must have sufficient training and demonstrate proficiency in working with RAM.   

Proper protective equipment must be worn and utilized when working with RAM.  Inventories and records as to the amount of RAM used should be kept up to date.  OLS must be contacted to dispose of used or unwanted RAM, and radioactive waste may not be disposed of using regular laboratory trash methods.   

An individual who willfully or negligently violates this policy, federal, or state rules and regulations governing the use of radioactive may have his/her approval use suspended or revoked by the Radiation Safety Officer pending review by the Associate Vice Provost for Research Integrity. 


Radioactive Material (RAM): Radioactive material is material which contains atoms which will spontaneously “decay” to form other types of atoms by emitting radiation in the form of particles and gamma rays. 

Radioactive Waste: Material that contains, or is contaminated with, radionuclides at concentrations or activities greater than clearance levels as established by individual countries’ regulatory authorities, and for which no use is currently foreseen. The waste is mainly classified according to its radioactivity level and to its decay time. These two characteristics principally influence the choice of the best method for waste treatment and its storage/disposal. 


On the approval process, RAM use procedures, or radiation safety, please visit the Office of Lab Safety website or consult the Authorized User Manual

Related Information


Contact Phone Number Email Address
Office of Laboratory Safety 202-994-8258  [email protected]


Responsible University Official: Vice Provost for Research
Responsible Office: Office of the Vice Provost for Research

Noncompliance with this policy can be reported through this website.