Ionising radiation information

Radioactive materials and irradiating equipment are important tools in education and research within the University.

However, the purchase and use of such materials and equipment is regulated under the Radiation Safety Act, the Radiation Safety Regulations and ORS Codes of Practice.

The University also requires strict protocols to be in place and to be regularly monitored. Our Radiation Safety Plan (downloadable on this page) documents how these protocols will be followed and the internal verification mechanisms check that these protocols are being followed.

Statutory obligations

The Radiation Safety Act requires that sources of ionising radiation  (radioactive material and equipment that emits ionising radiation) have a source licence and be under the control of a user licensee.

The source licence is a custody or safekeeping licence which is held by the University. The user licence imposes an obligation to ensure safe use. In the case of equipment emitting ionising radiation, Responsible Principal Investigators in charge of this equipment must obtain a User Licence. Those persons who operate this equipment must do so under instruction from the User Licensee. For radioactive material, there are statutory activity thresholds. Below these thresholds source and user licenses are not required.

Fully enclosed and interlocked X-ray Diffraction and X-ray Fluorescence Equipment are also exempt from the need for licensing under the Radiation Safety Regulations.

To ensure consistency of safe practice, the University of Auckland has protocols and procedures that will be followed regardless of whether the equipment/radioactive source requires a licence or not. Even though equipment/radioactive sources might not require a licence, they must still be under the control of a Responsible Principal Investigator who is responsible for safe custody, use and proper disposal.

Ionising Radiation Standard

Radiation University of Auckland as a ‘Managing Entity’ controlling sources of ionising radiation has a statutory obligation to ensure that the Fundamental Requirements as laid out in ss 9-12 of the Radiation Safety Act, 2016 are observed. After consultation with internal stakeholders, the University has provided a set of broad outcome-based  requirements for security, use and disposal of all ionising radiation sources within its control. These requirements are stipulated within an Ionising Radiation Standard which are designed to provide a framework for which the Radiation Safety Plan provides detail on how these commitments will be met.

University of Auckland Radiation Safety Plan

The University operates a comprehensive Radiation Safety Plan that covers:

  • The licencing, purchase and receipt of radionuclide and irradiating equipment
  • The use of ionising radiation in research and teaching
  • Operational documentation
  • Occupational hygiene and monitoring
  • Audits and documentation
  • Disposal
  • Contingency plans
  • The use of ionising radiation in clinical research.

The following link is to a resource available to staff only.

Waste Plan

The University of Auckland uses unsealed sources of ionising radiation in teaching and research.

Notwithstanding that the majority of unsealed sources in the University have activities that do not qualify as ‘Radioactive Material’ under the Radiation Safety Act, the University requires that all unsealed sources have consistent disposal requirements that meet both regulatory requirements and expectations of community stakeholders.

The Waste Plan provides guidance on how regulatory limits for disposal of unsealed isotopes will be achieved with a reasonable margin of safety.

The following link is to a resource available to staff only.


Our guidelines give safety information on equipment emitting ionising radiation including x-ray equipment and unsealed radioactive materials.


Training in the safe use of ionising radiation is delivered via on-line Canvas course (Safe Use of Ionising Radiation) which has modules specific for the equipment that emits ionising radiation or the isotope being used.

Responsible Principal Investigators are able to enrol participants in the relevant Canvas module.

Understanding of the material within each module is verified by a short quiz.  Once the written component of training has been successfully completed, the participant receives face-to-face training on how to safely operate equipment or handle the isotope.  The Responsible Principal Investigator then confirms competency to use the equipment/isotope in Canvas.

In some cases, equipment-specific training is undertaken by the  Responsible Principal Investigator and does not involve Canvas.  The Responsible Principal Investigator must retain all records related to this training.

Document Control
Version: 1.0
Last Updated: Oct 2020
Next Review: Oct 2023
Approver: Associate Director, Health Safety & Wellbeing