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Contained Source Training Modules


Radiation Safety Training for
Contained-Source Users
Notice: Training materials found on these pages are provided for the use of Princeton University faculty, staff and students to meet training needs specific to Princeton University.

What is a Contained Source?
Who Does This Training Apply To?

Contained Source Training Overview
Contained Source Radiation Basics Modules
Contained Source Radiation Basics Test
Refresher Training
Getting Started

What is a Contained Source? (top)

Sources of radioactive material used at Princeton University are categorized as either “open” sources, i.e., sources that are used in a readily dispersible form with a high potential for the spread of contamination, or ‘contained’ sources, i.e., sources that, due to their design characteristics, are not readily dispersible.

Because the radioactivity is encapsulated or plated onto a surface, contained and plated sources do not present a significant contamination hazard under normal conditions, but they may present a significant external exposure hazard, depending on the properties of the radioisotope or the amount of activity present. In some cases, contained sources may become significant contamination hazards when not used in accordance with established protocol or if they become damaged.

While most contained sources are stand-alone sources used to calibrate or check instrumentation, to irradiate materials, or for experiments in student science labs, sometimes analytical equipment such as gas chromatographs and liquid scintillation counters contain similar sources of radioactivity.

Contained sources are available in a variety of forms but most typically are:

Plated sources in which the radioactivity is electrochemically plated or dried onto a surface,

Sources in which the radioactivity is epoxied onto a surface, embedded or otherwise fixed into a matrix,

Sources in which the radioactivity is contained within a capsule in some manner, (typically welded into a capsule), but either has not been evaluated or is not robust enough to meet the federal or state definition of a contained source (see the next bullet),

Sources in which the activity is encapsulated and in which the source design has been evaluated and tested to demonstrate that the source design is robust enough to contain the activity under nearly all conditions. The conditions for testing are established by federal and state radioactive materials licensing authorities. The term ‘registered sealed source’ is reserved for any source for which a Sealed Source & Device Registry Certificate has been issued by a federal or state radioactive materials licensing authority.

Who Does This Training Apply To? (top)

Contained source training is required for persons who handle radioactive material in forms other than 'open-source' (e.g., sealed, contained, plated, etc.).

This training does not apply to persons who use open sources of radioactivity, which is the form used in most biomedical research.

Contained Source Training Overview (top)

This page describes the radiation safety training program for person who handle contained sources at Princeton University. The contained source training has two components. Click on the buttons below for additional information about these training elements.

1. Computer-based training modules covering Contained Source Radiation Basics topics

2. A test on the topics included in the Contained Source Radiation Basics modules

Contained Source Radiation Basics Modules (top)

There are eight computer-based training modules:

  • Radiation Properties
  • Background Radiation & Other Sources of Exposure
  • Biological Effects
  • Government Regulations and the Radiation Safety Program
  • External Dose Limits
  • Radiation Dosimetry
  • Working Safely with Contained Sources
  • Working with the Americium-Beryllium Source (required only for users of the americium-beryllium source)

These modules provide information on the following topics:

  • The basic characteristics of radiation, including the properties of various radioactive emissions
  • Half-life
  • Radiation units
  • Natural background and other sources of radiation exposure
  • The biological effects of radiation exposure
  • The risks of radiation exposure
  • Rules and regulations
  • The administration of the radiation safety program at Princeton University
  • Annual radiation dose limits
  • The ALARA Philosophy
  • When radiation dosimetry is required and when it is not
  • The Declared Pregnant Worker Program
  • The properties of the contained sources used at Princeton University
  • Guidelines and requirements for handling contained sources.

Contained Source Radiation Basics Test (top)

You may take this test if you have completed the Contained Source Radiation Basics Modules. If you have attended radiation safety training at any other institution, you must read through the Regulations Module, the Dose Limits Module, the Dosimetry Modules and the Working Safely with Contained Sources Module before you take the test.

Completion of this test does not certify you to use any other radioactive materials except contained sources. If you plan to use open sources of radioactive material, you must complete the radiation safety training program for open source users.

<<NEW>> Refresher Training (top)

Users of Category B, C, and D contained sources are now required to attend refresher training on a three-year interval.

EHS will contact your lab group to schedule a short (~0.5 hour) training session to discuss recent incidents as well as changes to the Contained Source Use Program. Sessions are typically held at lab group meetings for convenience.

Getting Started (top)

If you have never attended radiation safety training at any institution or would like to review all of the training modules:

Go to the beginning of the Contained Source Radiation Basics Modules

If you have taken radiation safety training at another institution, you must read about the rules, regulations and the administration of Princeton University's radiation safety program, the dosimetry program at Princeton, and the guidelines and requirements for handling contained sources:

Begin at the Government Regulations portion of the Modules

If you would like to go to a specific module:

If you are ready to take the test:

Go to the Contained Source Radiation Basics Test


For a disclaimer and information regarding the use of this page, see the disclaimer notice.
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