Authorization to Use Radioactive Materials

If you’re a Principal Investigator

You must apply to become an Authorized User for the use of radioactive materials in your laboratory at Princeton University. Applications are reviewed and approved by the Radiation Safety Committee or the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO). The entire authorization review and approval process typically takes 3-4 weeks.  Your radioisotope authorization will be issued for a term of five years; the renewal process is very quick and easy as long as you do not request significant changes in protocols. Contact the RSO to discuss your authorization plans and to get started with the application process.

If you need to use radioactive materials in very small quantities (usually referred to as Exempt Quantities), the authorization process may be simpler and quicker. 

If you’re an Undergrad or Grad Student, Post-Doc, or Other Staff

The Principal Investigator (PI) in charge of a laboratory is the Authorized User, i.e., the person who holds the official radioisotope authorization for the lab. Students and staff working in the PI’s lab will use radioactive materials under the PI’s authorization. If your PI is not currently authorized to use radioactive materials, your PI must either become authorized or you must find a PI who is authorized to do the type of radioisotope work you want to do and who is willing to allow you to work under his/her authorization.

Be aware that you will not be allowed to work with radioactive materials until you complete Radioactive Materials Safety training.

If You're Not Authorized to Use Radioactive Materials and Have a Short-Term Need to Perform Radioisotope Experiments

If you need to perform a very limited set of radioisotope experiments and have no plans for longer-term radioactive material use, it may be possible for you or your staff to work under the authorization of another PI.  Discuss your needs with the RSO.

Amending Your Authorizations

You (the PI) must apply for an amendment to your authorizations for any of the following circumstances:

  • To add or delete an authorized location for radioisotope use
  • To increase or decrease the authorized possession limit
  • To amend the authorized chemical or physical form
  • To amend the authorized experimental protocol or to add a new experimental protocol
  • To amend the experimental protocol to allow the in vivo or in vitro use of radioactivity in animals

Contact the RSO to discuss the amendment process.

Inactivating Your Authorizations

If there are no plans to use radioactive materials in your laboratory for an extended period (at least six months), we strongly encourage you to inactivate your authorizations. Inactivating your authorizations is not the same things as canceling your authorizations, because your authorizations can be almost immediately reactivated, within just a few days.  Inactivating your authorizations will save time and effort for both you and your lab staff and for EHS. While your authorizations are inactivated, you do not need to submit routine monthly reports to EHS, your lab personnel are not required to attend radiation safety training, EHS will not visit the lab to perform routine contamination surveys, and your lab will not be a target for regulatory inspections.   Contact the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) to discuss the inactivation process.

NOTE: You can inactivate your authorizations even if you have an inventory of radioactive materials. EHS will collect your radioactive materials and store it in a secure location in a refrigerator or in a -4C or -20C degree freezer.



Colt Greer
Assistant Director and RSO

Chelsea McDonnell
Health and Safety Technician