All radioactive materials must be acquired, possessed, and used at Cornell University facilities following the procedures described in this manual. This includes exempt quantities of radioactivity. These procedures exist to protect the welfare of individuals and the environment and to comply with the stringent regulatory requirements established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Cornell University is subject to periodic inspection to insure that all regulatory requirements are met. These inspections are very thorough, including monitoring checks of laboratory areas, inspection of procurement and disposition records, records of the qualifications of individual users, and records of personnel exposure. Violations of license requirements can result in the suspension or loss of authorization to use radioactive materials.
Radiation sources other than radioactive materials, such as x-ray machines, high voltage particle accelerators, and electron microscopes are regulated by the New York State Department of Health and are also subject to the provisions of this manual.
Cornell University has adopted a policy by which exposure to radiation is kept As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) as explained below:
Management's ALARA Statement
Cornell University strongly endorses and adopts the principle of keeping exposures to ionizing radiation ALARA. ALARA means making every reasonable effort to maintain exposures to radiation as far below the dose limits set by State and Federal regulations as practical, taking into consideration technical, economic and social considerations. (NRC 10 CFR 20).
All radiation safety programs and radiation use projects are designed with ALARA as a governing principle. Procedures, equipment and facilities are designed such that exposures are minimized to the extent that the overall benefits justify the measures taken.
The University Radiation Safety Committee develops policies, approves permit holders, and reviews procedures. These activities provide instruction and guidance to faculty, staff and students in the implementation and responsibilities of ALARA.
Cornell University provides technically qualified personnel and resources to implement this policy.
Radiation Safety Pyramid
Many people play important roles in radiation safety. The reverse pyramid below illustrates the flow of responsibility for each of the individuals or groups at Cornell and what their major functions are. Briefly, a radioactive material (RAM) license is issued to Cornell by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) which requires the management of the radiation safety program by a Radiation Safety Committee (RSC). The Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) and staff implement the safety program approved by the RSC. Permit Holders are responsible for following the radiation safety requirements and ensuring safety in labs and other spaces under their control. Although users are at the bottom of this pyramid, they are the most important link in the chain of responsibility because they actually handle and use the RAM or radiation source. Much of the RSO and staff interactions on campus occur directly with the user.