Environmental Health & Safety


Radiation is both a natural and man made phenomena. Radioactive materials, which by definition emit radiation, also occur in nature as well as being created by man. Considered a hazard to biological life, including man, it has been regulated by various authorities in the U.S. since the creation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.

As radiation and radioactive materials are used in several areas of research conducted here at UNCW we are required by law to be licensed to possess and use radioactive materials as well as register any machine that generates radiation. Along with our radioactive material license and registrations of x-ray equipment, a written radiation safety program is also required.

General Program Provisions

Ionizing radiation, the particular category addressed in UNCW's Radiation Protection Program, is a highly controlled and regulated activity. Specified quantities and types of radioactive materials are required to be listed on our license, issued by the State of North Carolina. Use of man-made radiation, such as in an X-Ray tube, require that the devices that generate the radiation are registered with the State.

To address the human safety considerations, as well as to be compliant with the law, UNCW has developed a Radiation Safety Manual which policies and procedures lay out the requirements of our Radiation Protection Program. The manual is based upon the States rules given in 10A NCAC 15 (North Carolina Regulations For Protection Against Radiation) and also on what is considered good practice in the field of health physics and radiation safety in particular. Additionally, because of our use of radiation and radioactive materials for research, the State has asked that we maintain a Radiation Safety Committee. The RSC consists of volunteer representatives from each department that uses radiation or radioactive materials in their work. The RSC reviews and authorizes all use of radioactive material and radiation at UNCW with the support of Environmental Health and Safety and its Radiation Safety Officer (RSO).

Getting Started

All prospective users of radioactive materials require a permit application be submitted and approved by the RSC prior to purchase of any material or for the relocation of any radioactive material already possessed onto UNCW property. Radiation generating devices require an application to register be submitted to the RSC prior to purchasing or locating such equipment on UNCW property. Please contact the RSO for additional information on the permit and application process well in advance of beginning any work. It is also highly recommended that you review the Radiation Safety Manual.

Training and Awareness

Students, faculty and staff who need to work with radiation or radioactive materials require sufficient training and /or prior experience to understand both the physical principles involved as well as the safety measures to be taken. EH&S can provide the class room portion of the required training. Contact the RSO if you expect to work with radiation or radioactive materials. The Primary Investigator is the person responsible for providing the hands-on portion of the training requirements. You will need to have either prior experience or complete the class room portion of the training prior to getting the hands-on portion through your PI.

For all personnel, including faculty, staff, contractors and students, who may need to enter or frequent a lab where radiation or radioactive materials are used; general awareness training is required. More information can be found in the Radiation Safety Manual under Section 4. Please contact the RSO to discuss and arrange for this training.

Assistance and Advice

If you still have questions or if you are interested in learning more about this program or radiation in general, please feel free to contact me at the 'RSO' link above (or go to EH&S staff directory Who To Call).