Environmental Health & Safety

University of Colorado Boulder


Radiation Safety

The Radiation Safety office provides oversight and helps ensure compliant and safe use of radioactive materials on the Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses with the express goal of fulfilling all requirements for our license for radioactive research. Our unit has helped maintain safety and compliance since the University first began using radioactive materials in the 1950s. In those days, the field of Radiation Safety (and the office on campus) was known as “Health Physics” – a name developed under the secrecy of the Manhattan Project in order to avoid arousing suspicions.

To support the requirements of our license, the our unit ensures the suitability of facilities and equipment, the completion the necessary paperwork, and provides expertise on radiation safety “best practices” for each protocol.  In some cases, we may also work to bring laboratories back into compliance and to preserve our “broad-scope” license.

  • Our primary goal is safety and compliance with the use of radioactive materials. Our unit takes measures to accomplish this goal.
  • We check radioactive materials on campus for contamination and inventory them to ensure security and safe use. We provide dosimetry and bioassay for researchers likely to receive significant doses from their work with radiation.
  • At the same time, we’re always developing training and support structure in order to empower researchers with information and tools to lower their risk from exposure to radiation. We calibrate survey meters and other radiation detection equipment at our facility, as well as in laboratories.
  • Our staff works closely with laboratories to adjust experimental protocols to minimize the production of long-lived radioactive or mixed hazardous/biohazardous and radioactive waste.
  • We collect radioactive waste from laboratories using procedures compliant with federal hazardous materials transport. We treat or decay the collected waste, if necessary, before being disposing it according to applicable federal, state, and local regulations.
  • We audit laboratories for compliance and check for unexpected levels or areas of contamination on a regular basis.

Though our role involves a great deal of required procedures and documents to ensure compliance with regulations, members of the Radiation Safety team also pride ourselves on the development of amenable and professional collaborative relationships with researchers with the goal of making compliance easier for everyone. We frequently work closely with researchers to develop innovative solutions which meet the intent of regulations while also facilitating each laboratory’s research needs. We are available to answer any questions or assist with issues involving radiation use on campus at any time.

Services provided by the Radiation Safety unit include:

  • Radiation safety programs, inspections
  • Contamination and exposure surveys
  • Mixed waste (radioactive and chemical)
  • Non-ionizing radiation (EMF, ELF, microwaves, lasers)
  • Radiation exposure monitoring
  • Radiation producing equipment inspections (x-ray)
  • Licensing for use of radioactive materials
  • Calibration of radiation detection meters
  • Radioactive waste pick-up & processing
  • Sealed sources—leak testing, inventory, receipt & disposal

Questions or concerns? Contact Us.



News and Updates

  • September 3, 2019 Newly-revised CU Radiation Safety Handbook!

      The CU Radiation Safety Committee has approved a new revision of the Radiation Safety Handbook! This document is meant to be a helpful tool which provides guidance and delineates policies of the CU Radiation Safety Program for the Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses. Take a look now and share with laboratory members so they […]

  • February 11, 2019 New Lab Management and Safety Compliance Application is now LIVE!

    Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is excited to announce that it will be implementing BioRAFT to make lab management for chemical, biological, and radiological safety compliance easier and more user-friendly. BioRAFT is a centralized, web-based platform for EH&S and CU Boulder’s research communities to manage laboratory training, inspections, equipment, hazards and much more. This new […]