Radiation safety

The SFU Radiation Safety program facilitates the safe and informed use of radiation sources and devices in research, teaching and the environment. The program is dedicated to safe management of radiation.


Hot Lab

Hours of operation : Monday - Friday, 9 am - 3 pm

Acquiring radioisotopes

Prior to placing your order for radioisotopes, consider the following:

  • Have you successfully completed SFU’s Radiation Safety Training course?
  • Is your lab properly prepared to begin work with the radioactive material?
  • Are you ordering from within Canada? Does your order require importing?*

Please note  that only radioisotopes listed on SFU's consolidated license as well as specified allowable possession limits as detailed on  in-house permits can be approved.

Permit holders place orders for radioisotopes through an online system. The orders are placed through Science Stores and are directed electronically through the FINS system to the Radiation Safety staff for approval. When placing an order, please include the following information in the desciption:

  • Radioisotope (e.g. P32, H3, C14...)
  • Activity amount
  • Item Catalogue number

Upon arrival of the radioactive shipment in Science Receiving, the Radiation Safety Technician (RST) is notified to pick up the package and receive it according to the TDG 7 requirements. Once the package is received, its unique content information is entered into SFU’s inventory system and the RST will deliver the product to your lab, along with an inventory sheet. Please note that only the Radiation Safety staff are qualified to ship/receive/transfer TDG 7 Radioactive Goods at SFU.

When handling unsealed sources, users are expected to complete and maintain an inventory.

*Important: Special considerations need to be given to items which fall under the International Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty which require a special import permit. Please contact the Radiation Safety Officer if you wish to import nuclear materials from outside of Canada. Allow 3-4 weeks to receive an import permit from the CNSC.

Waste handling

Simon Fraser University has a comprehensive hazardous waste program that fulfills all regulatory requirements.

The disposal of all radioactive waste is regulated by the CNSC, which specifies that a strict accounting be made of all radioactive waste generated. At SFU, radioactive waste disposal is controlled by the RST.

Consult the Radioactive Waste Disposal Plan for information detailing how to classify and package your radioactive waste. Then follow the procedure of Radioactive Waste Management System below for proper  waste disposal.

     1. Login the system with SFU computer ID:


     2. Choose the drop-off date/time (48 hours in advance)

     3. Input the waste tag info into the form, 3 items each time

     4. Submit your request, receive the report via email, and wait for the approval of the drop-off time

     5. If you have 1 to 3 more items, you may follow the link in the report/email, and add them in

     6. If you have more than 6 items, you can choose the nearest drop-off date/time and repeat the above steps

     7. Once you receive the approval notice, just bring in your waste to hot lab at the appointment time. No more paperwork is needed

For disposal of  equipment which houses a radioactive  source, please contact the RSO (rso-info@sfu.ca).

If you have any questions about what you are required to do, always ask your supervisor. Still unsure? Please contact the Radiation Safety staff at radsafe-info@sfu.ca in EHS.

Radioactive spill response

Important: Each radioactive lab is required to be equipped with an easily accessible radioactive spill kit and spill response procedure document

In case of a radioactive material spill:

  1. Call for help
  2. Contain the spill
  3. Secure the area to prevent further access

For detailed spill management instructions please refer to the CNSC spill poster in your lab, and SFU’s Radiation Safety Manual.

Note: If the spill results in skin contamination, the CNSC has a specific protocol which must be followed. Please refer to the Skin Contamination section of the Radiation Safety Manual for further details.


  • Regardless of the nature of the spill, please contact the Radiation Safety staff  ph: 778-782-3633,  email: radsafe-info@sfu.ca) immediately to inform them that a spill has occurred
  • Once the spill has been cleaned-up, you are required to fill out an incident report with SFU

Floor cleaning schedule

If you want your lab floor wet-mopped, you are required to conduct swipe tests, remove any contamination, and post the Go” - green mop and bucket sign on the appropriate cleaning day (see schedule for your area.)

Find more information about signage requirements.

Swipe tests

Swipe tests must be done on a weekly basis when using open sources of radioactive materials.

Download the swipe test form for results in cpm (counts per minute) per square centimeter
or for results in Bq (Becquerel) per square centimeter.

Handling Portable Gauges 

What are portable Gauges?

Please note to contact the RSO (rso-info@sfu.ca) if work  with a portable gauge is anticipated. SFU's consolidated  CNSC license for the possession, transfer, use and storage of 'Nuclear  Substances and Radiation Devices' does not include  'Portable Gauges' and would require an amendment.

Portable Gauges measure moisture and compaction levels. They are used in a variety of industries, such as agriculture, construction and civil engineering.

Types of Portable Gauges:
  1. Gamma ( Cesium-137)
  2. Neutron ( Americium-241/Beryllium)

Responsibility of Portable Gauge Users

Portable gauge users must:
  • Ensure work is conducted safely
  • Comply with regulations
  • Ensure personal safety and the safety of the general public and the environment
  • Comply with the SFU’s Radiation Safety Program, in accordance with regulatory requirements
  • Be aware of the risks associated with the safety or security of gauges and its safe operations
  • Ensure that the Portable Gauge is under the constant surveillance of a gauge user,  secured in a transport vehicle and at the storage location.

Please download a copy of the “SOP for Using Portable Gauges” and “Tracking Usage of Portable Gauges”, each time you handle and operate your device. A completed copy of these documents must be retained, indefinitely, in a binder nearby the storage location of the portable gauge.

Note: Gauge users must have their signed  TDG certificate with them at all times.

Storage of Portable Gauges (reminder: not permitted at SFU as per  CNSC license)

If you collaborate with other institutions using their equipment to conduct field  work, please ensure:

  • Before storing the gauge, make sure the radoactive source is fully retracted and the shutter is completely closed
  • Never modify or change the source holder, shielding or safety locks
  • Store the gauge in a locked, tamper-resistant container
  • Ensure that the package is identifiable with the consignor name, in case the gauge is lost, damaged or misplaced

Portable Gauge Incidents and Emergency Procedures

If you are working with portable gauges, please download and print a copy of the "Emergency Procedures when Working with Portable Gauges" and "Portable Gauge Incidents" documents.

External Resources

CNSC, Working Safely with Portable Gauges

CNSC, Portable Gauge Quick Reference Guide

CNSC, DNSR Newsletter: Preventing Portable Gauge Accidents


For questions regarding the Hot Lab entry protocol, please e-mail radsafe-info@sfu.ca.

For questions regarding Covid-19, please visit SFU community frequently asked questions about Covid-19 and Work & Research Safety Covid-19 Resources; or e-mail covid19@sfu.ca.