University of Maine

X-Ray and Sealed Source Users Annual Refresher Training


How to Use this Guide

Annual refresher training is intended for those persons who have attended an Initial Radiation Safety Training prior to the start of the current calendar year. It serves to update and inform users about current radiological safety requirements and concerns. Those users MUST review the annual Refresher Training Guide at least ONCE EVERY

CALENDAR YEAR. Alternatively, groups of users or departments may prefer to arrange for an in-house refresher training lecture conducted by the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO). These can be arranged on a case-by-case basis by calling the RADIATION SAFETY office at 1-4057.

Refresher training MUST be documented for each person in your laboratory who uses x- ray producing equipment or sealed source radioactive materials except for staff members who have attended the Initial Radiation Safety Training in the current year. Training documentation must be retained by Authorized Users and is subject to inspection by the State of Maine Radiation Control Program. After viewing, please complete a Refresher Training Record, keeping a copy in your laboratory and sending one to the Radiation Safety Officer.

When approved by the RSO, this guide can also be used as interim initial training for new staff who have  never attended the Initial Radiation Safety Training but who need to commence working with radiation before they can attend a regularly scheduled training. Contact the RSO for more information at 1-4057.

Topical Issues and Concerns


The State of Maine expects vigilant adherence to rules requiring security of devices and materials. It has stepped up its efforts to enforce those rules and will cite licensees for violations  of  those  rules.  NOTE:  these  rules  are  viewed  so  seriously  that  at  some institutions, inspectors have taken to  visiting  laboratories in the late afternoon or early evening hours to ensure facilities are secure during times of reduced occupancy.

What does this mean to you?


All     x-ray     producing     equipment     and     non-exempt radioactive material MUST be secured from unauthorized use, removal and vandalism at all times. Secure equipment and  non-exempt  sources  in  a  locked  storage  area  and/or locked lab room when left unattended. Unsecured, radiation producing equipment and non-exempt radioactive materials must NEVER be stored or used in an unrestricted and un- posted  room,  area  or  facility  and  MUST  never  be  left unattended. REMEMBER, the key is to restrict  radiation producing equipment and radioactive material access from unauthorized use under your UM-issued Authorization.


Inventory control serves many purposes--one such purpose is for  security.  An  accurate  "in-lab"  inventory  is  an  essential element of security. It is difficult if not impossible to identify missing  radioactive  material  when  users  are  unsure  of  the inventory present in the  laboratory. Maintain an accurate, documented inventory of equipment, materials received and disposed. The office of Radiation Safety can supply forms to assist in keeping a documented inventory, see attached


Make sure that radioactive warning labels are blatantly affixed to any source or container used for radioactive items and caution x-ray hazard to all equipment that produces x-rays.

Notify the Radiation Safety Officer immediately if you suspect that radioactive material is missing from your lab or that x-ray equipment has been tampered with or used by unauthorized personnel.




State regulations require users of radioactive materials and radiation producing equipment to affix warning labels to   containers or items holding radioactive materials and equipment. The  labels MUST be clearly  visible and durable and MUST bear  the  words   "CAUTION,  RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL"  or   "DANGER,  RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL”  or  “CAUTION,  PRODUCES  X- RAYS WHEN ENERGIZED".

The  label  must  also  provide  sufficient  information  to  permit  individuals  to  take precautions  to  avoid  or  minimize  exposures.  Such  information  should  include:  1) radionuclide(s), 2) estimated  activity, 3) date or 4) CAUTION RADIATION - THIS EQUIPMENT  PRODUCES  RADIATION  WHEN  ENERGIZED.  [SMRRRP  Part D.1901-5 & Part H.3.D]

Finally, labels on containers that are both empty AND uncontaminated must be fully defaced or removed prior to disposal of the containers. [SMRRRP Part D.1904.B]


NOTE: Labeling is an essential part of any safety program. Information and communication are keys to preventing mistakes and misunderstandings. You must take the time to properly identify radioactive materials, storage containers and contaminated items in your lab.



There are  several  properties  of  X  rays  that  make  this  type  of  radiation  particularly dangerous to  use  in the laboratory. X-Ray radiation cannot be sensed by humans, but some people can feel the  presence of a kind of "tingling sensation" which arises from charged air particles produced by the interaction of the ionizing X rays with air. X-Ray radiation is also hazardous because it can appear to "bounce" off surfaces and to "bend" around corners. This makes it important to survey each instrument  for leaks after any modifications to the instrument. At the University of Maine, these checks are conducted by the campus Radiation Safety Officer.

Although X-ray instruments have the potential to be dangerous, when used improperly, modern diffraction X-ray instruments pose few risks to careful users. The manufacture and  use  of  analytical  X-ray  instruments  is  regulated  by  both  the  federal  and  state governments. Current regulations require a variety of safety devices be built into X-ray instruments that make it very difficult for anyone to even accidentally expose themselves to the  dangerous  incident  X-ray  beam. The design  of  the  instruments  limits  even accidental exposures to the hands, arms and facial areas. Also, the types of radiation used in diffraction instruments (primarily Mo and Cu Kα  radiation) are considered "soft" radiation. These types of soft radiation generally will not penetrate more than 2-4 cm into the body.

Possible Health Effects

To date there have been few accidental exposures in X-ray diffraction labs, and the physical ailments  from these accidents have been relatively minor. Because of the soft nature of radiation used in a diffraction lab, accidental exposure to X-ray radiation will usually cause damage only to the skin and possibly bones near the surface of the body. Depending on the nature and extent of exposure some or  all  of the following medical problems may ensue.

Often at the time of exposure, little or no pain is felt. However, 1-3 hours later, a first- degree burn forms on the skin and a dull pain settles in all exposed tissues. Sometimes this is followed by swelling that turns into blisters that finally open and do not seem to heal over. In extreme cases, skin grafts and/or amputation are required. Exposure of soft X rays to the eyes may cause permanent cataracts to form. Because of the possibility of cataracts forming, it is recommended that glasses be worn in an  X-ray diffraction lab whenever instruments are modified or aligned.

As with  all  types  of  ionizing  radiation,  X  Rays  cause  the  most  damage  to  rapidly growing, undifferentiated cells. Thus, women that are pregnant or suspect that they are pregnant,  should  take  special  care  to  protect  their  fetus,  especially  during  the  first trimester. Women that are pregnant or suspect that they are pregnant and wish to avoid exposure should contact the lab director in order to  make arrangements to get data collected by someone else during the course of their pregnancy.

Electrical Hazard

Another serious hazard from an X-ray diffraction instrument is electrical shock. The X- ray generator is a highly regulated DC power supply that operates at applied voltages of

40 to 60 kV in order to achieve an optimum flux of X rays. Also, the power supply that feeds the detector operates at about 1 kV. These power supplies should only be serviced by trained electrical  engineers. Also note that the X-ray generator has several large capacitors. Even when the instrument is turned off, these capacitors store sufficient power to injure and possibly kill a person. All work on any X-ray generator should be done only

by personnel trained in high-voltage electronics.

Safety Procedures

All  users  of  x-ray  producing  equipment  must  first  become  "authorized  users"  by completing the requirements of the UM Radiation Safety Office. They must also read the safety information above and agree to abide by the following rules.

•      No unauthorized personnel may defeat or override any safety features on the X- ray   generators,   the   safety   enclosures,   or   the   goniometers   including   the collimators, tube shields and shutters.

•      No user may employ any power or hand tool on any part of the goniometer, detector, or  low  temperature device without express instructions from the lab director. The single exception to this rule involves the use of specific wrenches to adjust the position of the sample on the goniometer head and to adjust the position of the video camera to view the sample.

•      All actual or suspected X-ray exposures of any person should be handled in the following manner.

o  Medical    emergencies    must   be    treated   according   to   the   Workers

Compensation Program requirements. Call 911 for emergency transport.

o  If the exposure was due to a malfunction of the instrument, depress the red "X-RAY  OFF"  button on the either side of the generator before leaving the lab. If time permits tape a message to the front of the instrument noting "INSTRUMENT PROBLEM" and include your name, the date and your telephone number.

o  Report the incident to the University of Maine Radiation Safety Officer at

581-4057 and to the lab director. If medical treatment is required, notify

the chairman of your department.

•      Small electrical fires may be put out by using fire extinguisher located in the lab.

Larger fires and medical emergencies should be handled as described in your department's safety meetings. In the case of large room fires or major water leaks, be sure to turn off the X rays by pressing the red "X-RAY OFF" button on the front of all X-ray generators. Be sure to contact the lab director for any lab-related problems.


Major Incident:   Potential Health Hazard

In the event of x-ray producing equipment malfunction or source material loss of control such that dose rate levels exceed or are thought to exceed 10 mrem / hour at 3 feet then:

1.      De-energize x-ray equipment if able from a safe distance, or shield source to reduce area radiation levels.

2.      Vacate the area.

3.      Keep all people out of the area, except for trained incident response personnel.

4.      Call the Department of Public Safety (911). Public Safety will notify the RSO.

Minor Incident:   No immediate Health Hazard

In the event of x-ray producing equipment malfunction or source material loss of control such that dose rate levels do not exceed 10 mrem / hour at 3 feet then:

  1. De-energize x-ray producing equipment, or shield source to reduce area radiation levels. Non-essential individuals should be kept away.
  2. If there is any uncertainty about the scope and remediation of the equipment malfunction or source recovery, monitoring, or record keeping, notify the RSO.
  3. Record the incident in writing, and forward a copy to the RSO.   This incident report  will  include  the  time,  date,  and  location;  the  individuals,  equipment, isotope and activities involved; initial and final survey results, and brief narrative describing the events.

In the event that persons are injured and DO require first aid, then:

1.      Efforts to save life take precedence over radiation exposure issues.

2.      Immediately  notify  emergency  responders  and  the  RSO. State "Needs

emergency medical treatment and radiation exposure evaluation".

What does this mean to you?

For MEDICAL EMERGENCIES or other emergencies which substantially threaten safety (e.g. fire),IMMEDIATELY call 911 to notify the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Advise the DPS dispatcher if you suspect that a radiation hazard is or may be present.

Brief Review of Protocols & Procedures

What Every User Should Know

Users of radioactive materials and or radiation producing equipment must be familiar with their responsibilities and obligations. Fundamental responsibilities include following all applicable regulations and safety protocols along with  maintaining good documentation.

Each user should also be familiar with the Form - HHE-845 "Notice to Employees" posted in each radiation area, which describes and explains your legal rights as a worker using radiation.

Radioactive materials are regulated from "cradle-to-grave"--from the moment radioactive materials are acquired at the University of Maine through disposal of those materials by the University. The  regulations impose a responsibility on the University to ensure: 1) personnel safety, 2) public health and safety, and 3) protection of the environment. The Radiation Safety Committee and Radiation Safety Officer have been delegated the duty to implement programs and protocols  necessary to fulfill that responsibility.

You help meet your share of that responsibility by being familiar with and adhering to the programs and protocols developed by the RSC and RSO relating to:

•      Acquiring Radioactive Materials

•      Safely Using Radioactive Materials

•      Safely Using Radiation Producing Equipment

•      Safe Disposal of Radioactive Materials


Radioactive materials may only be used as approved by the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC). Principal Investigators may apply to become Authorized Users by submitting to Radiation   Safety   a   completed   Authorized Radionuclide   Users   Application.   That application describes the radionuclides or equipment proposed for use and the manner in which they will be used. It summarizes the "Who, What, Where, When and How". The application is reviewed and approved by the RSC based on the information it contains and any other information gathered by RSO after visiting the lab and speaking with the applicant.

Authorized Users and their staff may obtain radioactive materials in accordance with the limits and  descriptions specified in their authorization. Materials can be obtained from various sources such as vendors, other institutions, or transfers from other researchers at the UM.

In all instances, please remember these steps:

•      E-mail or call the RSO in advance—for purchases and transfers;

•      Describe the radioactive materials or devices to be received;

•      For transfers, provide the RSO with the pick-up and delivery locations and persons involved;

•      Provide vendors / shippers with the RSO address for all deliveries to UM, include the Authorized User's name and lab address in an attention line (e.g. ATTN: User / Lab Address);


Your responsibility toapply safety and accountability protocols begins as soon as radioactive materials arrive in your laboratory.


Package Opening Procedures


RECEIPT: Begin by safely inspecting packages for integrity and contamination, then documenting receipts as part of your in-lab inventory.

PREPARATION: Wear protective clothing (lab coat, disposable gloves). Avoid wearing shorts, open-toed sandals or other items of clothing that leave areas of skin exposed. Use dosimeters when required by the RSO.


Personal Protection Devices


Remember that eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, etc. are prohibited in designated radioactive  material  work  areas  in  a  lab  and  when  radioactive  materials  have  been removed from storage and are being us

USE: When using materials, work in designated areas and use appropriate shielding when applicable. Use facility protection devices, such as fume hoods, as directed by Radiation Safety. Change gloves often and   remove  gloves  before  handling pens, books, door handles, or other items to be protected from contamination.

POST-PROCEDURE: Make sure all radioactive materials used are secured when returned to storage. Wash hands.


Disposal of  radioactive source material is done through Safety & Environmental Management  (SEM). Before moving or disposing of any x-ray producing equipment, contact SEM at 581-4055.

Remember these General Guidelines when disposing of radioactive wastes:



Area dosimeter monitors are used to measure scattered radiation from interlocked, analytical cabinet x-ray devices. An area monitor is attached near the device’s “operator” position, as depicted in the following photo. Area monitors are analyzed quarterly. 


The Concept of "As Low As is Reasonably Achievable" OCCUPATIONAL DOSE LIMITS

The  State  of  Maine  Radiation  Control  Program  has established  Maximum  Annual  Occupational  Radiation Dose Limits. These limits apply to exposure to radiation resulting from occupationally-related activities.

Maximum Annual Occupational Radiation Dose Limits
Whole Body ("TEDE") 5,000 mrem/yr
Lens of the Eye 15,000 mrem/yr
Extremities 50,000 mrem/yr
Skin 50,000 mrem/yr
Individual Internal Organs ("TODE") 50,000 mrem/yr
Other Employee Limits
Embryo/Fetus of "Declared Pregnant Woman" 500 mrem over entire pregnancy
Minor (< 18 years of age) 10% of Adult Limits

Whole Body:

The head, neck and trunk including those portions of both arms above the

elbows and those portions of both legs above the knees but does not include skin or the lenses of the eyes.


"Total Effective Dose Equivalent" referring to the combined dose to the whole body from exposure to external sources of radiation and to sources internally distributed within the body, if any.

Extremities:    The portion of either arm extending from the hand to the elbow and the portion of either leg extending from the foot to the knee.

TODE:            "Total Organ Dose Equivalent" referring to the dose to a specific internal organ from exposure to both external sources of radiation and from internal sources deposited within the organ, if any.

Declared Pregnant Woman (DPW):

A woman who has voluntarily informed her employer, in writing, of her pregnancy and of the estimated date of conception . Note that an individual may revoke their declaration of pregnancy (in writing to the employer) at any time. Contact the RSO for more information


All individuals working with or near operating x-ray machines must wear a personal dosimeter.  Individuals who are likely to receive a dose in excess of 10 percent of the applicable level listed above are required to be badged.


The dose limits established by the State represent annual maximum limits and doses at those levels present a small risk of potential adverse health effects. However, that small risk will be reduced further by making the effort to keep occupational doses as low as is reasonably achievable ("ALARA"). Doses must not only be below the regulatory limits, but they must be kept as much below those limits as is reasonably achievable. The State of Maine mandates that all persons working with licensed radioactive materials and/or x- ray producing equipment must use, to the extent practical, procedures and engineering controls  based  upon  sound  radiation  protection  principles  in  order  to  achieve occupational doses (internal & external) that are ALARA.

How Does UM Apply Principles of ALARA?

The UM Radiation Safety Committee has adopted an ALARA Dose Level threshold of 10% of the State of Maine quarterly maximum dose limits. Individuals at the UM who exceed these levels are contacted by the RSO to advise them that some additional effort will be needed to reduce individual doses.

With very few exceptions, the majority of researchers using radiation at the UM have routinely  been  able  to  maintain  personnel  doses  well  within  the  ALARA  threshold established by the RSC.

                                                      ALARA Action Level                                                    

If You Exceed the ALARA threshold:

•      A standard investigation and report will be made by the RSO.

•      Findings and recommendations will be forwarded to the Authorized User, the exposed individual and the RSC.


To satisfy training requirements for x-ray users,  Authorized users must provide area specific instruction in and demonstrated competence as to:

(1) identification of radiation hazards associated with the use of the equipment;

(2) significance  of  the  various  radiation  warning,  safety  devices  and  interlocks incorporated into the equipment, or the reasons they have not been installed on certain pieces of equipment and the extra precautions required in such cases;

(3) Proper operating and safety procedures for the radiation machine (operation manual review);

Posting .  Each area or room containing analytical x-ray equipment; shall be conspicuously posted with a sign or signs bearing the radiation symbol and the words "CAUTION - X-RAY EQUIPMENT" or words having a similar intent.

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