Division Title

Non-Ionizing Radiation

pdf documentNIH Non-Ionizing Radiation Program (NIRP)

Non-ionizing radiation (NIR) permeates the world around us and exists in many forms on the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to near-ultraviolet radiation. Fortunately, in contrast to ionizing radiation, NIR lacks sufficient energy to remove electrons from atoms and molecules and is generally perceived as less harmful. However, exposure to significant amounts of NIR can result in tissue damage due to heat. For this reason and in consideration of incomplete epidemiological data, care is taken to limit exposure to NIR in accordance with consensus guidelines.
Electromagnetic Spectrum that shows how items range on the spectrum. Computers, Radio, Cell Phone UMTS, Microwaves, UV, X-Rays

The NIH NIRP is intended to minimize occupational exposure to NIR by:

  • Providing employee information regarding the recognition, evaluation and control of the hazards associated with sources of NIR;
  • Reviewing plans for the installation of new sources of NIR;
  • When requested, providing affected employees with information regarding source-appropriate safety principles and best practices; and
  • Evaluating NIR levels when requested by employees or when sources are identified during safety surveys.

Sources of NIR located at NIH facilities include:

  • Telecommunication and data transfer antennas;
  • Microwave ovens;
  • High intensity magnets, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) devices;
  • Ultraviolet lamps; and
  • Alternating current electromagnetic field sources such as electrical power lines, transformers, electrical panels, and electrical appliances. 

Contact Information

For assistance with the recognition, evaluation, and control of NIR, please contact the NIRP Manager in DOHS at (301) 496-3353. Reminder, Ultraviolet light should not be used in a biosafety cabinet (BSC)


Additional Resources