If you are just getting started in working with radioactive materials at Washington University or the Medical Center, you will first need to complete certain radiation safety training specific to your work.   The training that is required differs depending on the kind of work you do and your responsibilities.   The statements below identify some of the more common situations.

Click on the statements that most accurately match your work with radioactive materials to see a more detailed description and information on the next steps you will need to take.  If more than one statement seems to apply to you, you may need to pursue multiple courses of action.

If none of the statements below fit your situation, please contact Briana Davis at 314-362-4966 or brianadavis@wustl.edu to work out the correct requirements.

I will work in a lab with Radioactive Material, but not directly with it

Only workers who will use or come in direct contact with radioactive materials have to pass the Radiation Safety Exam.  However, all non-RAM workers in labs that contain radioactive materials still need to know:

  • What radioactive materials may be in the lab and in what amounts
  • Where the materials may be located and used within the lab
  • Radiation exposure potentials in the area
  • How to maintain the security of radioactive materials at all times
  • To report suspicious people or objects to Protective Services
  • Where the radiation safety records for the lab are kept
  • What to do in case of an emergency
  • What to do in case of pregnancy
  • To contact Radiation Safety at any time with questions, comments or concerns
I’ve Had Radiation Safety Training Elsewhere

Because it is difficult to verify that training from other institutions was similar to ours in content and intensity, we require all radiation workers, including Authorized Users, pass our exam(s).  You need only pass the exam(s) applicable to the types of radioactive work you will be performing.

I will work with patients in a clinical setting (Nuc.Med., Rad. Onc., Cardiology)

Applies to you if:   You work with patients in clinical settings and your department provides medical or clinical diagnostic or therapeutic services using radioactive materials or radiation sources, such as thallium or Tc-99m Stress Tests, I-131 Thyroid Therapy, HDR Treatments, Brachytherapy, Xe-133 Lung Scans, or other similar services.   We refer to people in this category as “clinical radiation workers”.

Getting started:   You may be exempt from initial radiation safety training if you hold specific certifications.   Please contact Briana Davis at 314-362-4966 or brianadavis@wustl.edu to work out the correct requirements for your situation.   There will also be annual refresher training requirements in future years, which are provided to clinical radiation workers as needed through the university’s learning management system, Learn@Work.

I will work with radioactive materials (RAM) in a research/laboratory setting

Applies to you if:   You use radioisotopes in research or teaching.   Common examples are C-14, H-3, I-125, P-32, S-35 and other isotopes.   If someone told you to “take the Radiation Safety Exam,” this is probably the right category.   We refer to people in this category as “laboratory radiation workers”, “Radiation Workers”, or “Radworkers.”   Most people using radioactive materials are in this category.

Getting started:   There are two parts to the initial training, a) an in-person exam and b) in-lab training on the specific procedures to be used.   The two parts can be worked on simultaneously, but the initial training is not complete until both have been done.

  • For the in-person exam, obtain the training manual, study for, and take the Radiation Safety Exam (RSE).   Learn about the Radiation Safety Exam.
  • Lab-specific training on the procedures used in the lab where you work is provided by the lab’s PI (who is called the “Authorized User” (AU) for radiation safety purposes), or a radworker from the laboratory staff who is designated by the AU.   Lab-specific training is permitted prior to taking the Radiation Safety Exam, but only if you are trained under direct and continuous supervision.   You may not work alone with radioactive materials prior to passing the RSE.

These two steps together comprise the initial radiation safety training.   You will also have annual training requirements in future years.   Annual training for radiation workers is provided as needed through the university’s learning management system, Learn@Work.

I will work with positron emitting (PET) isotopes in a research or clinical setting

Applies to you if:   You, individually, use any positron-emitting isotopes in research or teaching.   Also applies if you work with PET scanners, patients in PET studies, cyclotron facilities or PET radiochemistry.   Common PET isotopes are C-11, O-15, F-18, Na-22, Cu-64.   If someone told you to “take the PET Exam,” this is probably the right category.   We refer to people in this category as “PET Workers.”

Getting started: PET Workers are also Radworkers (discussed in the section immediately above), and have to complete the requirements for becoming a Radworker plus an additional in-person exam specific to positron-emitting isotopes.   The three parts to the initial training are: a) the Radiation Safety exam, b) the PET Isotope exam, and c) in-lab training on the specific procedures to be used.   The exams and the lab-specific training can be worked on simultanously, but the initial training is not complete until all three are done.

  • For the in-person exams, obtain the training manuals, study for, and take the Radiation Safety Exam (RSE) and the PET Isotope Exam.   The RSE must be passed before the PET Isotope Exam will be administered.   The PET Isotope Exam focuses on the specific radiation safety issues associated with using high activities of positron-emitting isotopes.
    Learn about the Radiation Safety Exam and PET Isotope Exam
  • Lab-specific training on the procedures used in the lab where you work is provided by the lab’s PI (who is called the “Authorized User” (AU) for radiation safety purposes), or a radworker from the laboratory staff who is designated by the AU.   Lab-specific training is permitted prior to taking the Radiation Safety Exam, but only if you are trained under direct and continuous supervision.   You may not work alone with radioactive materials prior to passing the RSE.   You may not work alone with PET isotopes prior to passing the PET Isotope Exam.

These three steps together comprise the initial training for PET Workers.   You will also have annual training requirements in future years.   Annual training for PET Workers is provided as needed through the university’s learning management system, Learn@Work.

I will work with a gamma irradiator

Applies to you if:   Your job responsibilities involve irradiation of blood, cells, other biological materials or animals.   Because of NRC requirements, training for irradiator use is initiated only upon written request from an irradiator Authorized User (or Co-Authorized User).   Irradiator training is also contingent upon the results of a background check, including fingerprinting for FBI identification and criminal history records check.   If someone told you to “take the Irradiator Exam,” this is probably the right category.   We refer to people in this category as “Irradiator Operators.”

Getting started:   You may initiate the irradiator training process by contacting Max Amurao at 314-362-2988, maxwell.amurao@wustl.edu, Karla Spafford at 314-362-4968, spaffork@wustl.edu or by calling the Radiation Safety Office main phone number 314-362-3476.

I am a Principal Investigator responsible for my own labs, grants, staff

Applies to you if:   You are, or will be, a Principal Investigator (PI) responsible for the use of radioactive materials in your own lab, research, or teaching.   We refer to a person who has been authorized to acquire, possess, use and store radioactive materials as an “Authorized User” (AU). AUs typically will have formal responsibilities for grants, labs, staff, etc., and most typically have Faculty appointments. We have several categories of Authorized Users.  

  • If your responsibilities involve clinical patient procedures or human research, rather than laboratory research, please contact Briana Davis at 314-362-4966 or brianadavis@wustl.edu to work out the correct requirements for your situation.  
  • If your responsibilities involve irradiator usage, please contact Max Amurao at 314-362-2988, maxwell.amurao@wustl.edu or Casey Delf at 314-747-0460, delfdc@wustl.edu, to work out the correct requirements.  
  • If your responsibilities involve use of radioactive materials in laboratory research or teaching, including use of PET isotopes, continue with the “Getting Started” section below.
  • If you don’t seem to fit in any of these categories, contact Briana Davis at 314-362-4966 or brianadavis@wustl.edu for help.

Getting started: There are two stages in the process for becoming an AU, and they can be worked on simultanously:

  • You must become qualified as a radiation worker or PET worker as appropriate for the kind of work your research or teaching will involve.   Follow the guidance above for the statement that addresses the kind of work you need to do.
  • You must submit an authorized user application for Radiation Safety Committee review and approval.   The application identifies isotopes, activities, locations and kinds of use; and documents your qualifications, training and experience.   AU Application