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Frequently Asked Questions

What is radiation?

Radiation is the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles. Natural forms of radiation include uranium and thorium found in soil or rocks and cosmic radiation from outer space. Man-made examples of radiation include x-rays generated by medical and dental equipment and radiation given off by radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine procedures. Visit the Health Physics Society website for more information.

What is the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation?

Ionizing radiation has sufficient energy to alter the atomic structure of an atom causing it to become charged or ionized. Examples of ionizing radiation include x-rays, gamma rays, alpha particles, beta particles and neutrons. Non-Ionizing radiation does not have sufficient energy to cause ionization. Examples include microwaves, radio waves, magnetic resonance imaging and lasers. Visit the Radiation Emergency Medical Management website for more information.

What are the possible effects of radiation?

Effects are typically grouped into two categories; deterministic and stochastic. Deterministic effects have a threshold below which no effects are seen. Sunburn is a deterministic effect. Stochastic effects such as cancer have no threshold although the probability associated with experiencing a stochastic effect does increase with dose. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection website for more information.

What does the Office of Radiation Safety do?

We manage the radiation safety program. The program has two primary missions. To ensure UConn Health complies with all regulatory requirements and to ensure exposures are being maintained as low as reasonably achievable. Refer to the radiation safety manual or services provided section of this website for more information.

How do I contact the Office of Radiation Safety?

You can call us at 860-679-2250. You can also visit us in person. Our main office is located on the 5th floor of the laboratory building in L5048. The radiation safety officer is located in L1102.

Who is the radiation safety officer and how do I contact this person?

The current radiation safety officer is Kevin Higgins. He can be reached through ORS or directly at 860-679-4925. You can also visit him in person. His office is located in L1102.

How do I know if I need a dosimeter badge?

Radiation workers include all UConn Health employees who are routinely exposed to ionizing radiation, whose regular job function involves the use of ionizing radiation or have the potential to receive 10% of the annual federal or 25% of the quarterly state dose limits.

If you will be working with radioactive materials or your job exposes you to ionizing radiation or you believe you should be outfitted with dosimetry, please contact the Office of Radiation Safety. If dosimetry is required, it will be provided.

What are my rights as a radiation worker?

Your rights as a radiation worker are outlined on the NRC website in Form 3. This form is posted in areas where radioactive materials are used or stored.

How do I obtain a copy of my personal exposure report?

Landauer badge wearers can obtain their exposure reports by following the Radiation Badge Exposure History Report Access Procedures.

Instadose users should go to the Account Management Program (AMP+) website and login with their Instadose application credentials. Once logged in, click on the “Instadose Reading History link”. You can also follow the “Read History” link located on the “Badges” and “Badge Reader” tabs of application.

If you have any issues, questions, or issues navigating to your exposure records, please contact ORS at 860-679-2250.

What do I do if I lose my dosimeter or leave it at home?

You must obtain a temporary or replacement badge prior to entering a radiation area. For lost Landauer badges, please contact ORS at 860-679-2250. For lost Mirion (Instadose) badges, please contact the Graduate Medical Education Office at 860-679-2147. Do not enter a radiation area without a badge and never wear someone else’s badge.

What if I do not realize I am missing my dosimeter until after I am exposed?

Contact ORS at 860-679-2250. ORS will determine if a dose adjustment is warranted and will submit the necessary paperwork to adjust your exposure records.

How do I minimize my exposure to radiation?

Remember time, distance, shielding, and contamination control. The less time you are exposed to a radioactive source or an energized radiation generating device, the lower your dose will be. The more distance you place between you and a radioactive source or radiation generating device, the lower your dose will be. The more shielding there is between you and a source or radiation generating device, the lower your dose will be. Use shielding and PPE whenever it is required or available.

Contamination control also minimizes exposure to radioactive material and therefore dose. Keep food and drinks out of areas where radioactive materials are used or stored. Always survey yourself prior to exiting an area where radioactive materials are used to ensure you are not contaminated or transferring contamination to an uncontrolled area.

What is a declared pregnant worker? How do I declare myself pregnant?

Declared pregnant workers are radiation workers who voluntarily declare themselves pregnant or indicate they are attempting to become pregnant. Once a worker formally declares herself pregnant (in writing), she will be outfitted with a fetal badge to be worn around the waist. ORS will then work with her to ensure dose to the fetus is maintained below federal limits. For information regarding the declaration of pregnancy process, please refer to the ORS SOP-1 or contact ORS at 860-679-2250.

How do I obtain lead/lead equivalent PPE, apparel, or eyewear?

Contact your supervisor. Departments typically maintain their own inventory of lead/lead equivalent aprons, thyroid collars, etc. If your location does not have sufficient lead/lead equivalent PPE, notify your supervisor and/or contact ORS at 860-679-2250.

Can I use my own lead/lead equivalent PPE here at UConn Health?

Yes, however, all lead/lead equivalent PPE, apparel or eyewear must be approved, inventoried, labeled, and inspected prior to initial use and then annually. Please contact ORS prior to using any personal items here at UConn Health.

How do I obtain, transport, store, or dispose of radioactive materials?

Refer to the Radiation Safety Manual and contact ORS for instructions regarding the purchase, receipt, storage, or disposal of radioactive materials.

How do I get my lab surveyed?

Contact ORS at 860-679-2250 to schedule a lab survey.

When should I ask ORS for a shielding design or barrier evaluation?

Whenever you are installing new imaging equipment, altering the layout of an imaging suite, or changing the function of a room adjacent to an imaging suite.

How do I request a shielding design or barrier evaluation?

Refer to ORS GL-6 or contact ORS at 860-679-2250 to request a shielding design or barrier evaluation.

Do I need to request a room shielding evaluation for radioactive materials?

ORS will review and determine extent to which shielding is required prior to approving your application for use of radioactive materials. If shielding is required, you will be notified.

What steps should I follow when purchasing radiation-generating equipment such as x-ray, CT, or C arms?

All radiation generating devices (RGDs) must be added to the official inventory, registered with the State of Connecticut, and tested by a medical physicist prior to initial use here at UConn Health. Please contact ORS at 860-679-2250 for assistance, prior to purchasing any new equipment.

How often should my x-ray, CT, or fluoroscopy equipment be tested and serviced? What kind of testing or servicing is required?

Generally speaking, all RDGs must be tested by a qualified medical physicist prior to initial use, once every 12 months (± 30 days), or whenever specified or required by a medical physicist. The medical physicist will determine exactly what should be tested. Maintenance and repairs beyond the annual medical physicist test will be coordinated by Clinical Engineering.

Who is authorized to use x-ray equipment?

Physicians and state/board-certified radiology/dental technologists are permitted to use x-ray equipment on patients. Additional training and credentials are required for CT, MRI, mammography, and fluoroscopy equipment. Contact the Medical Staffing Office at 860-679-4450 for more information.

What do I do if a fluoroscopy exposure threshold is exceeded during a patient exam?

Refer to ORS SOP-4, Patient Fluoroscopy Exposure Reporting. Fill out the form and send it to ORS. In addition to keeping track of fluoroscopy exposure threshold exceedances, ORS will determine if a peak skin dose estimation and patient follow-up are required.

How do I report a radiation safety concern?

Please report any/all safety concerns to your supervisor and to ORS in person, via email, or by calling 860-679-2250. As a radiation worker, you also have the right to contact the NRC as outlined in Form 3, Rights and Responsibilities of Radiation Workers.