Working with Radioactive Material


The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) is licensed by the State of Wisconsin for radioactive materials for clinical and research applications at facilities located at MCW and Froedtert Hospital (FH). FH and MCW are jointly responsible for the implementation and review of the Radiation Safety Program to ensure that it conforms with State/NRC regulations, specific license conditions and any other applicable local, state or federal regulations. The Radiation Safety Program is directed and monitored by the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC). The RSC is an administrative committee responsible for the oversight of radioactive material under the license. The day-to-day operation of the Radiation Safety Program is provided by the Office of Radiation Safety (ORS) under the direction of the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO). The RSO has been delegated the authority by MCW and FH Administration to address and resolve problems that occur with noncompliance of regulations or State license conditions.

Radioactive materials are used in research at MCW in a number of ways.  For example: unsealed radioactive materials are used to label cells in order to better understand cellular pathways; sealed source irradiators are used to study the impact of radiation on cells and biological processes; X-ray diffraction can be used to analyze the crystalline structures of materials.

 What does MCW consider to be radioactive material?

Radioactive material is composed of unstable isotopes of elements that are special in their characteristic emission of ionizing radiation.  These materials are useful in research as tracers in biological and chemical processes.

The use of radiation and radioactive material at MCW and Froedtert Hospital (FH) must be done with the prior approval of the Radiation Safety Committee. Investigators wishing to apply for authorization to use radiation or radioactive material should read the Standard Operating Policies, complete the appropriate form from our Office of Radiation Safety - Forms web page and submit the application to the Office of Radiation Safety.

Not sure which form is appropriate for your needs? The Office of Radiation Safety Application Forms are divided into two groups:  Clinical Research Applications and Non-Clinical Research Applications

 What approvals do I need to work with radioactive material?

Different approvals are required depending on the intended use of radioactive material.

 

Medical Use on Human Subjects


The use of radiation and radioactive material at MCW and Froedtert Hospital (FH) must be done with the prior approval of the Radiation Safety Committee.

  1. An Application for Medical Use must first be submitted to the Office of Radiation Safety (ORS) for review.  Additional Training & Experience (T & E) form(s) are required as part of the application.  To view the basic application form and all T & E forms, visit Authorized User Application Forms - Medical Use on the ORS web site.

  2. Once approved by ORS, the application is then submitted to the Radiation Safety Committee for approval.

 

Non-Medical, Non-Human Use


Animal Use

The use of radiation and radioactive material at MCW and Froedtert Hospital (FH) must be done with the prior approval of the Radiation Safety Committee.

  1. Investigator must apply to the Office of Radiation Safety for Radiation Use Authorization (RUA).  The application to be completed is Radioactive Materials Use Application (Non-Human Research).  View this application as well as instructions for completing the application, amendment forms, etc. at the ORS web site Application Forms - Non-Medical Research.

  2. Investigator must submit an Animal Use Authorization (AUA) via eBridge for Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) approval.  Note that this can be done concurrent with seeking Radiation Safety Committee approval.  The IACUC will conduct the review of the animal use submission but will not render a final decision until the Safety
    Committee’s approval has been confirmed. Alternatively, Safety Committee approval may be obtained prior to
    submitting the AUA to the IACUC.  The investigator may choose whether these submissions take place concurrently or sequentially.

Non-Animal Use

  1. Investigator must apply to the Office of Radiation Safety for Radiation Use Authorization (RUA).

  2. Once RUA is approved, investigator submits an application to the Radiation Safety Committee.  View applications, instructions and forms at the ORS web site Application Forms - Non-Medical Research.

 What can I do to streamline the approval process?

The Office of Radiation Safety will work to facilitate a timely approval for both new and existing Investigators.   Please review the criteria below which will help you to determine which forms you need to submit.  In addition, Research Resources Starting Up Research offers additional guidance.

  • If your research will involve only working with unsealed radioactive materials in a research lab, and not involve the use of animals or human subjects, you will need to fill out the Radiation Use Authorization (RUA) form.
     
  • If your research involves unsealed radioactive materials in human subjects, you will need to fill out the Human Radiation Use Authorization form and an IRB application.
     
  • If your research involves unsealed radioactive materials in animals, you will need to fill out the Radioactive Use Authorization (RUA) form and an IACUC application.
     
  • If your research involves the use of Sealed Source Irradiators, you will need to complete the application process for Irradiators, which involves safety and security training as well as fingerprinting and FBI background checks.  This process can be initiated by contacting RadSafety@mcw.edu
 Is auditing or monitoring required?

MCW research laboratories that are authorized to use radioactive material are inspected by the Office of Radiation Safety at regular intervals, no less than once per year.  The frequency of inspection varies depending on the materials and quantities of allowed possession; most labs are inspected quarterly.

 What can I do to prevent problems in the laboratory?

To avoid problems in a radioactive material approved laboratory, always adhere to the Guidelines for the Use of Radioactive Materials in Research (pdf).  This document is available on the Radiation Safety Guidelines web site; a hard copy is provided to all radiation users.  The following safety measures are excerpted from this document and illustrate merely some of the many important instructions included in the Guidelines.  Please refer to the complete document for a comprehensive perspective.

  • Before any procedure is performed, consideration should be given to the amount and type of radioactive material (RAM) being used to determine the need for additional precautions, such as remote handling, hoods, air sampling devices or special working surfaces. Consideration should also be taken for the volume and type of waste generated. The Office of Radiation Safety will be available for assistance on initial or unusual operations.
     
  • Adhere to all Safety Rules for Working with RAM:
    1. Wear appropriate protective clothing (i.e. lab coat, gloves, closed-toe shoes).
    2. Use remote handling tools, as appropriate.
    3. Wash hands and monitor clothing, as appropriate, for contamination after each procedure and before leaving the area.
    4. Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in a restricted room or area where RAM is used.
    5. Do not store food, drink, or personal effects with RAM.
    6. Store radioactive waste only in specially designated and appropriately shielded receptacles in a secured area.
    7. Never pipette RAM by mouth.
    8. Transport RAM in appropriately closed and shielded containers.
       
  • Employ proper use of dosimeters
     
  • Adhere to rules regarding restricted and controlled areas
     
  • Properly store and label radioactive material
     
  • Follow all guidelines for security
 What training is required?
  • Radiation Safety Class for New Users
    Any new personnel working directly with radioactive material should attend the Radiation Safety Class. Students, post-docs, lab technicians, etc. must have documented training in radiation safety. The Radiation Safety Class teaches the basics of working with radioisotopes in research laboratories, and covers the following topics: basics of radioactivity; health effects of ionizing radiation; radiation protection techniques; licensing and regulations; laboratory policies and procedures.  Email Radiation Safety to register for training.

  • Annual Refresher
    This online course is required for all employees working with unsealed radioactive material who have previously taken the mandatory Radiation Safety Class for new users.  Registration is not required.  Email Radiation Safety for more information.

  • Iodination Training
    This face-to-face course is required for all users performing iodinations.  Email Radiation Safety to register for training.

  • Irradiator Training
    This online course is required for individuals using an irradiator.  Registration is required; please email Radiation Safety.

 What resources and optional training are available?

The Office of Radiation Safety provides additional training via:

  • DVDs
     
  • ANGEL online training resource
     
  • One-on-one performance based training

Contact us to discuss your training options and needs: email RadSafety@mcw.edu or phone 414-955-4347

 What are the relevant policies, procedures and guidelines?

The Office of Radiation Safety maintains a document Guidelines for the Use of Radioactive Materials in Research (pdf)This document is available on the Radiation Safety Guidelines web site; a hard copy is provided to all radiation users and a hard copy is provided to all radiation users.

Additional procedures and guidelines are available at the Office of Radiation web site Policies and Procedures.

The Medical College of Wisconsin maintains a Corporate Policy Radiation Safety Program (RS.RD.010) which is available on MCW’s intranet site.  On InfoScope, search for keywords “RS.RD.010” to view.

 Whom do I contact if I have additional questions?

If you have any questions regarding the use of radioactive materials in research, contact the Office of Radiation Safety:

Contact Radiation Safety

Phone: 414-955-4347

Fax: 414-456-6327

Email: radsafety@mcw.edu web: Radiation Safety

Location: M0760 (basement, Medical Education Bldg)
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI  53226-0509

 

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