Radiation Control Division
  • Joe Melnic, Radiation Control Division Chief

  • John Chippo, Radioactive Materials Licensing Section Chief

  • X-Ray and Accelerator Section Chief, position currently vacant

  • Contacting the Radiation Control Division:

    • Phone:  717-787-3720
    • Fax:  717-783-8965

  • New! DEP Online Refresher Training Program for X-Ray Equipment Operators
    • DEP, in partnership with a Bloomsburg University professor of health physics, has developed online refresher training materials for operators of X-ray equipment who conduct low-risk procedures such as general radiography and dental X-rays.† DEP regulations require operators to demonstrate that they have completed a recommended two contact hours or four units of continuing education every four years in specialized subject areas, such as sources of radiation exposure and methods of protection.† The subject areas should be applicable to the procedures they perform and equipment they utilize.
    • This course is designed as a refresher in Radiation Safety for all individuals who operate medical X-ray equipment, other than accelerators in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is necessary to have some form of continuing education in the key areas of radiation safety, biological effects of radiation, quality assurance and quality control to ensure continuing competence. Operator training and continuing education is required based upon the potential risk to the patient and worker in the long term (e.g., cancer induction), and the potential for patients to experience injuries in the short term (i.e., skin burns and tissue damage). It is important that all operators recognize and understand the importance of Radiation Safety.
    • The following materials can be downloaded at no cost:

  • Licensing Requirements for Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (PDF)
    • DEP Information Notice 2013-04
    • Dated June 17, 2013
    • This notice alerts licensees who perform sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLN) procedures of the regulatory requirements for excised tissue removed during this procedure. No specific action or written response is required.† This notice is based on NRC Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2008-31 (PDF).
    • DEP has had a recent increase in the number of inquiries regarding the surgical centers that routinely perform these procedures and their need for licensure. Therefore it was deemed appropriate to issue this Information Notice to help answer these questions.
    • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and therefore DEP, has determined that the surgical removal of the tissue portion of the SLN procedure may be completed without a medical use license, provided the limit in 10 CFR 30.71 (100 microcuries) isnít exceeded.†
    • The pathology portion of the procedure may also be completed at a non-license facility provided the tissue does not contain more than 100 microcuries of technetium 99m (Tc-99m), which is the limit set forth in 10 CFR 30.71.† DEP also recognizes that these surgical facilities may not possess the necessary equipment to properly measure the activity of the tissue sample and therefore may rely on the data provided by the administering medical licensee.
    • NRC Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2008-31 (PDF)
      • NRC Regulartory Issue Summary 2008-31
      • Dated Dec. 1, 2008

  • Radiation and Radioactivity (PDF)
    • DEP Document # 2900-FS-DEP3051

  • Pending Expiration of the NRC Type B Transportation Package Certificate for Sentinel Model 660 Series Radiographic Projectors on June 30, 2013 (PDF)
    • DEP Information Notice 2013-03
    • Dated May 4, 2013
    • To all DEP specific radiography licensees
    • This information notice alerts licensees of the upcoming expiration of the Certificate of Compliance (CoC) (No. 9283) on June 30, 2013, for all Sentenial Model 660 Series radiographic projectors. The manufacturer, QSA Global, Inc., is allowing the CoC to lapse on that date.† US and international regulations require that a valid certificate must be in place to allow legal transport. On July 1, 2013, the Model 660 Series (i.e., model numbers 660, 660A, 660B, 660E, 660AE and 660BE) will no longer be authorized by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and so cannot be transported legally.
    • After June 30, 2013, licensees must use a certified Type B overpack container to lawfully transport the projectors containing a radiography source inside.† Since the 660 Series device incorporates depleted uranium as shielding, even an empty device must still meet transportation requirements for a manufactured article containing depleted uranium.
    • Licensees are encouraged to evaluate their programs for the best option for regulatory compliance regarding transporting the 660 Series projectors. This is not limited to, but may include making final disposition of any devices in their possession prior to June 30, 2013.
    • Licensees are reminded that changes in material possessed under their Pennsylvania radioactive materials license shall require an amendment to remain in compliance with current regulations.
    • Pending Expiration of the NRC Type B Transportation Package Certificate for Sentinel Model 660 Series Radiographic Projectors on June 30, 2013 (PDF)
      • NRC Information Notice 2013-08
      • Dated May 2, 2013

  • DEP Seeks Information About Antique Medical Kit Containing Radium-226
    • DEP News Release
    • Dated Feb. 1, 2012
    • Information Needed: Public Health Issue
    • 1 curie of Radium-226 Discovered in West Chester Trash Container
    • On Jan. 19, 2012, a load of construction debris set off radiation alarms at Waste Management Inc.'s (WMI) Norristown, PA, transfer station. WMI detained the truck and deployed a health physicist to recover the radioactive material, identified as approximately 1 curie of radium-226. DEP health physicists worked with WMI to properly evaluate and store the radium.
    • The radium-226 was contained in four capsules inside a small lead safe marked "Radium Chemical Co., Inc." The safe and some very old equipment were stored inside a larger, locking metal box, which had been pried open.
    • The contents of the box appear to have been medical devices used as long ago as the 1920s. The box had been placed in a dumpster being used by construction workers at the Hershey's Mill retirement community in West Chester, PA.
    • Although the capsules contained in the radium are currently being stored at a licensed facility and present no danger to the public, it is important to learn more about where and for how long this safe and its radioactive contents were kept prior to Jan. 19, 2012.
    • If you have any information about where this material came from or you have had contact with the box and its radium-226 contents, please let us know! Direct your confidential comments and questions to: David Allard, 717-787-2480 or email BRP at RA-EPBRPEnvPrt@pa.gov
    • Public Health Issue flyer, full text (PDF)
    • Lead safe found in West Chester containing radioactive radium-226 material
      Metal box containing lead safe found in West Chester containing radioactive radium-226 material
      Metal box containing lead safe found in West Chester containing radioactive radium-226 material, with lid closed

Radiation Control Division Program - Background

Radiation in large doses can cause injury and death. Chronic exposure to lower levels of radiation may cause an increased risk of certain kinds of disease, such as cancer. The major source of radiation exposure to the public is medical and environmental. Medical exposure involves radiation-producing machines such as computed tomography (CT) X-ray imaging devices, high-energy particle accelerators used in cancer therapy and radioactive materials used for internal imaging and therapy. The major source of environmental radiation is radon gas in soil trapped by enclosed buildings and other natural background radiations from building materials, the earth and space. Radiation and radioactive material are also utilized in many common devices such as certain smoke detectors, thickness gauges and chemical analyzers.

The goal of the Radiation Control Division is to prevent avoidable radiation injury from the use of licensed or registered radiation sources and to keep public, environmental and worker exposure to radiation-producing machines and radioactive materials As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) in order to minimize the potential for long term disease induction. Methods of radiation protection include: public education, regulation, compliance assistance, licensing, registration and inspection of radiation sources, facilities and users.

Specific legislative authority is derived from the Radiation Protection Act (1984-147) (PDF).

Program Activity: Develop Regulations and Policy

The use of radiation for medical, industrial, and research purposes has increased and evolved significantly since the program was transferred from the Health Department in 1971. The Division develops regulations for the safe use of radiation-producing machines and radioactive material, and continues to revise them over time as necessary. Along with the regulations, guidance and fact sheets are developed to assist licensees and registrants in complying with the regulations and avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation. The Radiation Control Division provides consultative support to registrants, licensees and the Regional Office program staff in the interpretation of regulations and policy. Procedures are developed and updated to assist regional staff in conducting compliance inspections of registered and licensed facilities.

Program Activity: X-ray Machine Registration and Inspections

The Division is responsible for the registration of over 11,000 facilities possessing over 33,000 X-ray units.

In order to ensure that patients, personnel and the environment are protected, that operators are properly trained, and radiation equipment and facilities meet current protection standards, the Department has a goal to inspect all facilities at least once every four years. Major facilities may be inspected every two to three years. In all, this results in a total of approximately 2,800 inspections per year statewide.

Users of radiation-producing machines are required to register with the Division, to designate an individual to be responsible for radiation protection, and to indicate the number and type of units possessed. Registration allows the Division to maintain an inventory of X-ray equipment in Pennsylvania so that all users can be inspected for compliance with the applicable radiological health regulations. Users pay registration fees based on the type of facility and the number of tubes possessed. The Division oversees the production and issuance of associated registration certificates, renewal letters, invoices, and the collection of initial and annual fees.

Program Activity: Mammography Equipment Inspections

In accordance with the terms of a federal contract with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), BRP is responsible for inspecting approximately 400 screening mammography X-ray facilities for compliance with the technical aspects of the equipment and quality assurance standards of the federal Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) of 1994. Compliance with these standards enhances the quality of mammograms and increases the likelihood of early detection of breast cancer in women. BRP inspectors receive intensive MQSA inspection protocol training from the FDA. The Radiation Control Division administers the contract and coordinates the inspection program by the regional offices.

Program Activity: NEXT Surveys

The Division has participated in the FDA's National Evaluation of X-ray Trends (NEXT) program since itís inception in the mid 1970ís. The program tracks exposure to patients from selected diagnostic x-ray procedures over the years. FDA randomly selects the facilities to be surveyed and provides a list to BRP along with the necessary patient equivalent phantoms, survey equipment and protocols needed to conduct the surveys.

Program Activity: Accelerator Licensing

The Division issues specific licenses to medical accelerator and non-medical facilities. In 1998 the regulations were amended to replace the previous registration program for the approximately 141 accelerator facilities and approximately 221 accelerators in the Commonwealth with a licensing program. Unlike registration, licensing requires prior approval for licensed activities. Acceleration operations are complex; information must be provided up-front so the Department can determine on a case-by-case basis what requirements are necessary for the accelerator to be used safely. The Division oversees the production and issuance of associated accelerator license certificates, license renewal letters, invoices and the collection of the license fees. Pre-licensing inspections are conducted by the regional staff in coordination with the central office license reviewer.

Program Activity: Radioactive Material Licensing

Users of all byproduct material are required to obtain a license from the Division prior to obtaining those radioactive materials. This material is used in hospitals, colleges and industries for medical, research and industrial purposes. The Department issues specific and general licenses for the use of radioactive material. The objective of the licensing program is to ensure radioactive material is used safely, disposed of properly and facilities are free from contamination when licensed operations are terminated. Licensees pay fees based on the type of radioactive material being used; thus, the licensing and inspection programs are self-supporting.

In order to more efficiently, uniformly and safely control radioactive material, Pennsylvania has entered into an Agreement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to expand its authority over the licensing and regulation of Byproduct, Source and Special Nuclear Material. As a result of the merger of NRC licenses with NARM licenses, the number of radioactive material programs BRP will license and inspect has increased from approximately 460 to about 800. Again, as required by Act 1984-147, licensing fees have been established to provide full financial support for these additional inspection and licensing activities.

Program Activity: Radiation Monitoring of Solid Waste

The Department is responsible for protecting the public and the environment from the disposal of hazardous material contaminants. Hazardous material includes sources of radioactivity. With increasing frequency, radioactive material (RAM) is detected in municipal and residual solid waste by radiation monitors installed at processing and disposal facilities. In 2001, the Bureau of Radiation Protection (BRP) and the Bureau of Waste Management (BWM) jointly developed regulations requiring all municipal and residual solid waste facilities to implement an action plan to monitor all incoming wastes for the presence of radiation and radioactive material. A guidance document was also developed to assist facilities in implementing their action plans. The Division also works with recycling facilities to monitor and prevent the contamination of recycled materials.

Program Activity: Vendor/Service Provider Registration

The Division is responsible for the registration of over 300 service providers/vendors throughout the Commonwealth. Those who provide services for radiation-producing machines (x-ray machines and accelerators) are required to register with the Division. They are also required to provide to the Division information on who, when, where and what equipment or service was provided to the x-ray registrants and accelerator licensees in the Commonwealth. Registrants pay a set registration fee of $140.00. The Division oversees the production and issuance of associated registration certificates, renewal letters, invoices and the collection of initial and annual fees.

Program Activity: Miscellaneous Radiation Control

In addition to the above noted routine activities, staff perform a number of special projects. These projects are related to: special investigations of medical events (misadministration of radiation-producing machines and materials), development of educational materials, training, support of RAM site decommissioning, review of complex proposals for healing arts screening using X-rays (e.g., whole body CT screening), participation in emergency response activities involving nuclear power or radioactive materials, maintaining a Radiation Protection Advisory Committee drawn from the public, regulated and scientific communities, performing outreach to the community on the subject of mammography cancer screening and answering questions regarding non-ionizing hazards from such things as microwaves, power lines and tanning booths.