Radioactive Materials Permits by Corey Wintamute, Sr. Research Safety Specialist

Working with radioactive materials (RAM) in the laboratory comes with certain responsibilities. Some of those responsibilities include administrative duties that must be performed on an ongoing basis to prepare the laboratory for quarterly audits performed by EH&S. Over time, procedures, personnel, technology, and scientific pursuits may change, however, and experiments that required the use of RAM become a thing of the past.  For permit holders who find themselves in this situation, there are options.
Permit holders who are no longer working with RAM, but do not wish to terminate or surrender their permit, have the option to reclassify their permit as “inactive.” Under this option, users keep their RAM permit, but are no longer required to maintain the radioactive materials binder, including the administrative duties of training, monthly surveys and filing of dosimetry reports; labs are not subject to quarterly audits while inactive. The process of making a permit inactive can be completed in less than two weeks. Please note, after a permit has gone inactive, RAM cannot be purchased or stored.
The process to reclassify a permit as inactive requires four simple steps:

    1. The permit holder makes a written request to the Radiation Safety Officer.
    2. A waste pickup request is submitted by the PI or Lab Manger for all RAM (waste, stocks, samples) in the laboratory.
    3. The laboratory arranges an exit survey with EH&S after the RAM has been removed.
    4. EH&S completes a final radiation exit survey confirming that all RAM has been removed and that there is no residual contamination. Once confirmed, stickers and signage are removed.

In the event that the permit holder wishes to resume RAM work and re-activate their permit, the process is even simpler and can typically be completed within a week’s notice.

  • The permit holder makes a written request to the Radiation Safety Officer.
  • EH&S conducts an entry survey to provide signage and waste containers.
  • Laboratory personnel update training.
  • EH&S reactivates the permit.

For more information, or if you are considering reclassifying your permit, please contact the Radiation Safety Program at CUMC: or Morningside:

Are Your Cylinders Secured? by, Harry J. Oster, Sr. Fire Safety Specialist

In accordance with New York City Fire Code, compressed gas cylinders, whether full or empty,  must be secured at all times to prevent movement from contact, vibration or seismic activity.  Cylinders may be secured utilizing one or more of the following methods:

  1. To a fixed object with one or more noncombustible restraints. Note: cylinders shall not be secured to plumbing systems or electrical conduits.
  2. On a cart or other mobile device specifically designed for the movement of compressed gas cylinders.
  3. Within a rack, framework, cabinet or similar assembly designed for such use (i.e. floor base holder), except when the cylinders are in the process of examination, filling, transport or servicing.

Additionally, valves of compressed gas containers designed to accept protection caps or other protective devices shall have such caps or devices attached. Outlet caps or plugs shall be in place except when the compressed gas containers are in use or are being serviced or filled.


Unsecured cylinders have been cited by the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) during weekly laboratory inspections.  If you have compressed gas cylinders in your lab and are not sure if they are properly secured, please contact EH&S Fire Safety for an assessment:



Photo shows a typical compressed gas cylinder not properly secured. Although the protective cap is in place on top of the cylinder, the cylinder is not restrained and poses a safety hazard.

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