Skip to main content
NIH Logo NIH Logo

Office of Research Services

Serving the NIH Community


Radiation Safety Protocols

​Division of Radiation Safety (DRS) protocols are written contracts between an Authorized User (AU) and the DRS. These protocols detail the information required to use specific quantities or types of radionuclides when working in laboratories.

​Obtaining a DRS Protocol​

DRS protocols are required for:  

  1. Accumulated lab activity of a radionuclide that exceeds the "max HP ceiling" value in either table of the DRS activity control system table.   ​
  2. Note: A DRS protocol is NOT needed if the activity of an aliquot from a vial stored in Bldg. 21 is returned to a lab from the DRS Hot Lab Facility and is less than the maximum ceiling value for that radionuclide. 
  3. Any amount of volatile radioactive iodine or bromine used outside of the Hot Lab Facility​
  4. Any amount of an alpha-emitting radionuclide​ used in a lab, except for uranium or thorium compounds used in electron microscopy staining. 

Obtaining a DRS protocol first requires the submission of a Laboratory Protocol Application​. To expedite the review process, please ensure all necessary information is included in the protocol application. 

DRS Protocol Requirements ​​

The Division of Radiation Safety has developed standard requirements for protocols for a number of radionuclides. Please review the Standard Radiation Safety Requirements for DRS Protocols​ for any work requiring a DRS Protocol prior to submitting a Laboratory Protocol Application​

A DRS Protocol requires the following information:

  • Names of Authorized Users (AUs) responsible for the conduct of the experiments 
  • Radionuclides, activities, and compounds to be used 
  • Individuals permitted to handle the protocol quantities by the AUs 
  • Locations where the quantities or types of radionuclides requiring a DRS protocol will be used. 
  • Description of experimental procedures 
  • Radiation safety protocols or precautions to be followed to minimize exposures 
  • Protocol hands-on practicum (PRACT)* ​

*Required for all users working with protocol quantities of radioactive material on DRS protocols. For non-protocol users, DRS provides voluntary hands-on practical exercises (HOPS) for anyone wishing to obtain more experience in survey and monitoring techniques when working with radioactive materials (RAM). 

All DRS Protocols must be reviewed by the NIH Radiation Safety Committee prior to approval. DRS Protocols are valid for two years with an annual review to be performed by the area health physicist​ where the labs are located. Please review the Standard Radiation Safety Requirements for DRS Protocols for additional information. ​

Special Types of DRS Protocols

Animal Study Protocols (ASP) ​

Animal studies involving radioactive materials and/or radiation producing equipment (RPE) must be reviewed by an Institute's Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) prior to receiving approval from the DRS.  

If the quantities or types of radionuclides used in the preparation of the radionuclide research procedure meet any of the criteria for a radiation safety protocol, the approved DRS protocol is to be listed in the ASP protocol. The area health physicist should be contacted for specific radiation safety guidance in developing an ASP.  

Human Research Protocols 

Clinical Use Protocols​ involving radioactive materials and/or radiation producing equipment (RPE) must be reviewed by the NIH Radiation Safety Committee​ prior to receiving final approval from an Institute's Institutional Review Board (IRB).