Survey Requirements

AU’s are responsible for ensuring that monitoring is performed both during and after each use of radioactive materials. The type of monitoring and surveys shall be appropriate for detecting the radionuclide in use. The area covered by the survey shall be sufficient to assure that radioactive material remains controlled and within the radionuclide work or storage area.

All surveys shall include

  • Measurement of surface contamination with the appropriate instrument,
  • Measurement of removable contamination by swipes.



Although routine surveys shall be performed during and after every use of radioactive materials, not all surveys need to be documented. Surveys shall be documented at least on the frequency given in Table 1. Surveys shall also be documented every time contamination or radiation action levels are found, either by routine survey or as the result of a spill; refer to Table 2 and Table 3 below for survey levels and required accompanying actions. 



As of October 1, 2022, MU EHS RSS no longer provides calibration services for detection equipment as required by 10 CFR 20.1501 and 10 CFR 35.61. Both handheld and benchtop detectors must be calibrated annually or upon repair. The AU is responsible for coordinating calibrations and replacing batteries. More information on the calibration process can be found on the Meter Calibrations page. For additional information on using survey meters and swipe counters, see instructions detailed on Surveying the Lab for Contamination.

Table 1.
When do I need to document a survey?
(Use or storage of potentially uncontained materials)
Action Required
Instrument survey and Removable Contamination survey
Greater than 5 mCi of activity handled or in use at any one time
Greater than 1 mCi of activity handled or in use at any one time
Active Authorization
  1. Monitoring shall be performed after each use of uncontained radioactive materials and in the case of spills.  Such surveys document the event and the effectiveness of corrective action or cleanup. 
  2. Surveys shall be documented on at least the frequency indicated above. 
  3. Surveys shall also be documented in the case of contamination or radiation levels in excess of action levels listed in Tables 2 and 3 (including documentation of corrective actions and results). 
  4. Instrument surveys are not required for tritium (H-3) or as stated in Special Conditions specifically approved for the authorization.
  5. If active Authorization does not possess radioactive material, then monthly documented survey shall document that the survey meter(s) and LSC (or other swipe counters) are calibrated and functioning properly.


Table 2.
Removable Contamination Survey Levels and Actions for Beta and Gamma Emitters
(Swipes in dpm/100 cm2)
Contamination of
Less Than 200 (or Less Than 20 for Alpha Emitters*)
Greater Than 200 and Less Than 2000
Greater Than 2000 and Less Than 20000
Greater Than or Equal to 20000
Personnel and/or clothing; areas outside restricted areas
Control and Report immediately
Control and Report immediately
Control and Report immediately
Floor in restricted area; areas outside of Radioisotope Work Area
Decontaminate, document, and report by next work day
Control and Report immediately
Control and Report immediately
Designated Radioisotope Work Area
Decontaminate and Document
Decontaminate, Document, and Report by next work day
Labeled Equipment, Apparatus, or Appliances
Decontaminate, Document, and if greater than 200,000, report by next day

*Isotopes with alpha emissions must have removable contamination limits of less than 20 DPM to remain ALARA. Anything greater shall be decontaminated and documented. 

Note: Report any spill involving greater than 1 microcurie (2,200,000 dpm) immediately!


Table 3.
Instrument Survey Levels and Actions
Instrument Surface Contamination Survey
Instrument - Area Radiation Level Survey
Decontaminate or shield, and document
Greater than or equal to 0.3 mR/hr @ 1 cm from surface
Greater than or equal to 0.2 mR/hr @ 30 cm
Control and Report Immediately
Greater than or equal to 3.0 mR/hr @ 1 cm from surface
Greater than or equal to 2.0 mR/hr @ 30 cm


Page last updated on August 31, 2022.