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​The NIH Radiation Safety program implements operational policies to ensure radiation doses to radiation workersNIH staff, and the general public are as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA)​.

​ALARA Principles 

  1. Continual efforts will be taken to maintain radiation exposures as far below regulatory dose limits as possible. 
  2. Efforts and practices taken to limit human exposures will be consistent with the purpose of allowing the use of radioactive material and radiation sources in the advancement of biomedical research within the NIH.
  3. Engineering development and practices used to reduce human exposures will consider the state of the technology available and the costs of the improvement.  

Methods Used to Facilitate ALARA Program ​​

Administrative Controls

The NIH's radiation protection program operates under license requirements and ensures compliance with the provisions of regulatory requirements.  Program activities are continually documented.  Periodic reviews are performed by the independent NIH Radiation Safety Committee​ annually, and by independent external auditors and inspectors. The NIH employs practical procedures and engineering controls based on sound radiation protection principles to maintain occupational doses and doses to members of the public that are as low as is reasonably achievable (ALARA). 


Both initial and periodic training in the safe use of radioactive material is an integral part of the NIH's ALARA program. Both general and specialized courses are developed to address the nature and types of radioactive material and radiation sources occupational workers may encounter. 


The NIH employs various monitoring procedures​ to determine personnel radiation exposures and releases to the environment. Specific programs include the oversight of radioactive material usage and radiation source emissions in laboratories by surveys, inspections, and specific security requirements. In addition, personnel monitoring to external radiation exposure​ is performed by appropriate dosimetry and internal radiation exposure by bioassay and air sampling procedures. 

Engineering Methods

The use of state-of-art technology and known radiation safety best practices will be studied to develop increasingly better management of radiation exposures. Such efforts will be applied to both systematic and individualized procedures. 


Deviations from established practices or non-compliance with NIH radiation safety practices, policies, and radioactive material security requirements are subject to enforcement actions as determined by the DRS. Punishment for significant violations will be directed to the Radiation Safety Committee​.​


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