Frequently Asked Questions

Radiation Safety Questions


What is a Radiation Safety Officer?

The Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) approved by the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) and the NRC, is the individual who is named on the NRC License.  The RSO is responsible for ensuring the safe use of radioactive materials and radiation producing devices at Georgetown University. The RSO is responsible for: managing the radiation safety program; identifying problems; initiating, recommending, or providing corrective actions; verifying corrective action implementation; and, ensuring compliance with regulations. The RSO is delegated the authority necessary to meet these responsibilities. This authority includes immediate suspension of any operation involving radiation which constitutes a health hazard or is in violation of Federal and District of Columbia regulations and those set forth in the Georgetown University Radiation Safety Manual. Additionally, the RSO is charged with assisting the RSC in the performance of its duties.

Can I work with Radioactive Materials (RAM) prior to taking mandatory Basic Radiation Safety and GU RAM Worker training sessions?

Yes. Upon arrival in a RAM laboratory you must receive and document lab specific Radiation Safety Training. This training is performed by the Authorized User or designee. It is documented on the Authorized User Training Record. You must then register for, and attend the next scheduled training session for Basic Radiation Safety and GU RAM Worker. Training dates and times are available on the GU EH&S website.

How do I transport liquid radioactive waste for disposal to the Radiation Safety Office Staff?

All liquid radioactive waste must be transported on carts, and in a secondary containment. Remember to securely fasten the container lids. Attach a completed radioactive waste tag to each liquid waste container. Refer to Radioactive Waste for additional information. 


How do I get approval to use Radioactive Materials (RAM) or Radiation Producing Devices (RPD)?

The Radiation Safety Committee reviews and approves all Authorized Users (AU) and uses of radioactive materials (RAM) at Georgetown University (GU). An authorization may be issued by for RAM Research Irradiator Facility (RIF) or for Radiation Producing Devices (RPD). All individuals requesting an Authorized to Use Radioactive must submit an application in writing. Refer to Authorization Applications for additional information.

How do I obtain the RAM I need for my research?

All orders for RAM must be approved by the RSOS. The Radioactive Materials - Credit Card Purchases form needs to completed and submitted to RSOS for approval. A unique "release number" is assigned, and RSOS places the order with the appropriate vendor. Orders received by 11:00am will be placed that day.

Do lab members, who will not be using RAM, need to complete laboratory specific training?

Yes. For RAM labs, all persons who frequent the lab must receive laboratory specific training. This training is administered by the AU, and is documented on the AU Training Record.


General Lab Safety Questions

How do I dispose of laboratory equipment?

Decontaminate the equipment with a 10% bleach solution. Complete the Certification of Decontamination form and fax (ext. 7-5046) or deliver to the Environmental Health and Safety Office in LM-12 Preclinical Science. The Department of Oncology/Lombardi investigators should schedule a pick up through the Lombardi Research Operations Office (ext. 7-3039). All other departments should schedule a pick-up through the Medical Operations Office (ext. 7-1497).

What should I do if my chemical fume hood is not functioning properly?

Contact Environmental Health & Safety (ext. 7-4712)immediately to have your fume hood inspected.

Where can I find more information on Waste Disposal?

The Georgetown University Waste Disposal Guidelines flipchart is located in each laboratory and provides emergency contact phone numbers and information regarding the disposal of the following types of waste: general, infectious/pathological, chemical, radioactive, and mixed hazardous. If your lab is in need of a new flip chart contact EH&S(ext. 7-4712).

What is the required PPE while working in the laboratory?

While performing research operations, the minimum required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes: lab coat, safety gloves, and closed-toed shoes; safety glasses or goggles, when working with hazardous materials outside of a fume hood. Special tasks may require additional PPE such as UV glasses, heat resistant gloves, cut-resistant gloves or respiratory protection. 

What are "Particularly Hazardous Substances"?

Particularly hazardous substances (PHS) are those chemicals with special acute or chronic hazards. The OSHA laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) defines PHSs as select carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or substances which have a high degree of acute toxicity. Standard Operating Procedures are required to safely manage these chemicals.

Biological Safety Questions

Does Environmental Health and Safety supply sharps containers?

Yes, but only those labs authorized to use radioactivity. Otherwise, sharps containers may be purchased through your preferred lab supply vendor.