1. Introduction

The 5th edition of the McGill University Radiation Safety Policy Manual (hereafter referred to as The Manual) has been revised under the guidance of Mr. Joseph Vincelli (Radiation Safety Officer & Occupational Hygienist) and members of the McGill Radiation Safety Committee.

This manual was designed to inform all laboratory personnel about McGill University's policy regarding ionising radiation.

Since the manual will be periodically revised, readers are asked to contact Environmental Health & Safety (local 4563) with comments, suggestions, omissions or errors.



In Canada, there are several government bodies, which have jurisdiction over the use of ionizing radiation. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) licenses the acquisition and use of all radioactive materials and radiation emitting equipment such as nuclear reactors and accelerators. Recommendations from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) are also used to formulate the rules and conditions under which radioisotopes or radiation emitting devices are used.

In addition, the Health Protection Branch of Health Canada formulates regulations related to the manufacture and functioning of new radiation equipment under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act. Some provinces also have their own regulations for the use of radiation emitting equipment (e.g. x-ray emitting equipment).

As of June 1, 2000 the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) of Canada was replaced by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The creation of this Commission follows the coming into force of the federal Nuclear Safety and Control Act on May 31, 2000. The new act, with increased focus on health, safety, security and environmental protection, replaces the Atomic Energy Control Act adopted in 1946.

During an information meeting on March 31, 2003, the CNSC presented the new program entitled "Risk Based Regulatory Program", which over the next few years will change its policies concerning the emission of licenses and the CNSC inspection and compliance program. These changes are based on a federal government initiative to implement risk-based management practices.

Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the CNSC has four major mandates:

  • regulation of the development, production and use of nuclear energy in Canada;
  • regulation of the production, possession and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment and prescribed information;
  • implementation of measures respecting international control of the use of nuclear energy and substances, including measures respecting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; and
  • dissemination of scientific, technical and regulatory information concerning the activities of the CNSC.



The Manual embodies the policy of McGill University in the field of ionizing radiation. It describes the organization, services, procedures and regulations with respect to the procurement, storage, use and disposal of radiation sources, i.e. radioactive materials and radiation-emitting devices. Radiation sources comprise:

  • Radioactive materials, all of which (with minor exceptions) require licenses issued by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
  • Devices emitting ionizing radiation and requiring CNSC licenses.
  • Radiation-emitting device not requiring CNSC licenses but subject to provincial control (e.g. conventional X-ray machines).

The Manual does not cover sources of non-ionizing radiation such as lasers and microwave generators.

The Manual is intended to help McGill personnel protect themselves, other staff, students, the public and the environment from the hazards associated with ionizing radiation. In addition, adherence to the procedures and recommendations included in The Manual will ensure compliance with all the relevant federal, provincial and local laws and regulations concerning radioactive substances and radiation-emitting devices.

The Manual is applicable in all buildings and grounds under the jurisdiction of McGill University. Most of the procedures and rules apply wherever radiation sources of the types indicated are used. However, the diversity of radiation sources and devices used on campus is such that additional procedures and regulations may be required in specially designated areas. These special procedures and recommendations are described in annexes to this manual, which are also available on the website.

The Manual will be amended and/or supplemented as necessary by changes in knowledge, equipment or legal requirements.