General description of ionizing radiation

Radiation is the propagation of energy through space or matter. Ionizing radiation is radiation of sufficient energy that when it collides with an atom, it can cause the atom to ionize, or lose electrons. The radiation may be either electromagnetic like gamma photons and x-rays or particulate like alpha particles, beta particles and neutrons.

General regulatory citations (federal and Wisconsin)

Sources of, and exposure to ionizing radiation are primarily regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 10 CFR 20 and in Wisconsin by the Department of Health Services in DHS 157. Occupational exposure to ionizing radiation is also regulated by OSHA in 29 CFR 1910.1096.

Specific training requirements

Most uses of ionizing radiation in the workplace are regulated and require training commensurate with the type and amount, called activity, of radiation being used.

Links to campus training resources

Your radiation safety training needs to be customized for your campus needs. To see training materials from some campuses, click on the following:

UW Madison Radiation Safety Training

University of Michigan Radionuclide Users Annual Refresher Training Guide

Links to other resources

Health Physics Society



This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.

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