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University of Pittsburgh
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User Guide—Irradiators

Overview

Irradiation of cells and animals is a useful tool for biomedical research. Within the University a variety of both nuclear (gamma) and X-Ray irradiators are available for research purposes.

See list of irradiators and trainers.

Training Requirements

Prior to using an irradiator, individuals must obtain training on basic principles and operation.

Any individual using a gamma or X-Ray irradiator must attend a training lecture offered by the Radiation Safety Office (RSO). The lecture covers:

  • Regulatory requirements for the use of irradiators
  • Concepts of ionizing radiation and radiation dose
  • Basic principles of radiation protection
  • Health effects from exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Specific features of irradiators and the irradiation of samples
  • Applicable radiation safety policies and procedures

The lecture is offered once each month or by special arrangement. Individuals must register in advance by contacting the RSO.

Additional training in the operation of each specific unit is also required. Designated trainers offer this training on a by-appointment basis. Documentation of this device-specific training must be submitted to the RSO.

Dosimetry Requirements

Irradiators are self-shielded devices. The external radiation levels are low and exposure to operators or other individuals in proximity to the devices is minimal. Therefore, personal dosimetry is not required.

Policies and Procedures

Gamma Irradiator Program

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Order EA-05-090 has imposed increased controls on the unescorted access to and use of certain sources of ionizing radiation. At the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, this would include gamma irradiators and Gamma Knives (clinical irradiators). The order requires us to monitor access to radioactive sources and establish the trustworthiness and reliability of persons seeking unescorted access. A common plan has been implemented throughout all facilities covered by the University licenses.

The following measures have been instituted to come into compliance with the order:

  • Physical access to the rooms containing irradiators is controlled by University proximity card key access. Card keys will be activated for individuals only; there will be no departmental keys or master keys. The system will record all access events, including individual names, date, and time.
  • Individuals deemed to be reliable and trustworthy, based upon standards established by the NRC, may have unescorted access to the gamma irradiators. All other individuals wanting access to an irradiator must be escorted and supervised by an individual who has approved access. The escort must maintain line-of-sight contact with the individual using the irradiator.
  • Trustworthiness and reliability will be determined principally by a background, employment and reference check. This is required for all current and future users who wish to have unescorted access.
  • Submission of an "Irradiator Access Request" form with consent to perform background checks and fingerprinting will be required for all individuals who desire unescorted access to any irradiator.

A fillable pdf version of the "Irradiator Access Request Form" may be found here.

Instructions for completing the form may be found here.

Operating procedures are available at each unit. It is the responsibility of the individual user to determine the appropriate irradiation time to obtain the desired results. Users are required to document each use in an approved Radiation Safety Office log book.

Authorized User Responsibilities

X-Ray Irradiator Program

X-Ray irradiators are not subject to the same security requirements as gamma irradiators. Upon completion of the training requirements, individuals will be given access to the unit.

Operating procedures are available at each unit. Under normal circumstances, a machine warm-up period is required. It is the responsibility of the individual user to determine the appropriate machine parameters to obtain the desired results. Users are required to document each use in an approved Radiation Safety Office log book.

Authorized User Responsibilities