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Whether your organization's focus is improving the environment or protecting worker health, ORAU can develop solutions to meet your health physics and radiation safety needs.

Health physicists understand that radiation can be beneficial to industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture and the environment. Even everyday items in our homes—such as smoke detectors and granite countertops—contain small amounts of radioactive isotopes that are generally safe when used as intended. However, industrial uses of radiation must be managed and controlled to protect workers, the public and the environment from hazardous exposure levels. 

ORAU's history and health physics expertise reaches back to the post-Manhattan Project nuclear era and some of our early work focused on the use of isotopes in medicine. From establishing a cancer research hospital and medical division that became a nationwide resource for physicians seeking knowledge in the growing field of nuclear medicine, ORAU's expertise in health physics and radiation safety spans much of our history.

Though our mission today has changed, ORAU has never wavered in its focus on providing the expertise to help our government and private-industry customers monitor and evaluate radiation exposures to workers and the environment. We also provide radiation safety and health physics training through our Professional Training Programs (PTP) to help your employees stay current on the latest techniques in radiation protection and environmental monitoring.

What is health physics?

Health Physics is the profession of radiation safety. Practitioners, known as health physicists, are scientists that share the common goal of protecting people from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation while maximizing the benefits to mankind from the uses of radiation and radioactive materials.

Health physics at ORAU

Having been involved in the health physics profession since it began, ORAU has developed into a key member of the larger health physics community. ORAU currently employs more than two dozen health physicists across multiple business units. These include:

  • Safety staff testing a work environment for radiation

    Worker health & safety

    From epidemiology and health surveillance studies to risk assessments and organizational culture evaluations, ORAU offers a comprehensive approach to helping customers focus on workplace hazards research and the occupational health and safety of workers.

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  • Two health physicists conducting radiological contamination assessment

    Environmental assessments

    ORAU has performed environmental assessments and verification for federal and state agencies for more than 30 years. Our team of highly-skilled health physicists work with cleanup agencies to provide objective, independent surveillance of decontamination and decommissioning efforts.

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  • Applied Health Physics Course instructor and students

    Health physics training

    Since 1948, ORAU has trained more than 30,000 scientists, physicians, engineers, educators, regulators and personnel in a variety of radiation safety and health physics topics through its Professional Training Programs (PTP). ORAU's PTP conducts a wide variety of health physics and radiation safety courses, including our noteworthy, five-week Applied Health Physics course and multiple one-week offerings.

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    Radiation emergency medicine

    Through management of the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, ORAU’s radiation emergency medicine experts are preparing the current and next generation of healthcare providers, first responders, first receivers, emergency management and planning personnel, public health professionals and health/medical physics professionals.

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Radiation safety & health physics training

PTP sealORAU also offers comprehensive radiation safety and health physics training courses available through our Professional Traning Programs (PTP) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Whether you are just starting your career in the health physics field and want to learn in a hands-on, classroom environment, or are a seasoned professional who needs a refresher or way to develop new radiation safety skills, PTP has a course for you!

  • Applied Health Physics Course instructor and students

    Applied Health Physics

    The use of radiation in industry, medicine, and education has created a need for persons trained in the principles of radiation safety and health physics. To meet this need, ORAU conducts a five-week training course—Applied Health Physics. The American Academy of Health Physics grants 40 Continuing Education Credits for completion of this course.

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  • Air Sampling

    Air Sampling for Radioactive Materials

    This five-day, laboratory-oriented course introduces participants to the basic theories and mechanics of air sampling for radionuclides. Approximately 40% of the time is spent collecting and analyzing air samples; the remaining time is devoted to lectures.

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  • Environmental Monitoring Course instructor and students in the field

    Environmental Monitoring

    This five-day, laboratory-oriented course introduces participants to the basic theories and mechanics of environmental monitoring for radioactivity. Approximately 50% of the time is spent collecting and analyzing samples; the remaining time is devoted to lectures.

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  • Gamma Spectroscopy Course instructor and students in classroom

    Gamma Spectroscopy

    This five-day, laboratory-oriented course covers the basics of radionuclide identification and quantification by gamma spectroscopy. Approximately 50% of the time will be spent in the laboratory.

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  • Health Physics Statistics Course instructor and students in classroom

    Health Physics Statistics

    This five-day course introduces participants to the use of statistics in operational health physics. The course is divided between lectures and practical laboratory activities designed to reinforce important principles. Core concepts such as probability distributions, descriptive statistics and hypothesis testing are included to support more detailed discussions on uncertainty propagation and statistical tests.

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  • Introduction to Radiation Safety Course student in lab

    Introduction to Radiation Safety

    This five-day lecture/laboratory course is an introduction to the basic science behind radiation safety and to common applications of radiation safety principles. Lectures include a description of common radiation sources, interactions of radiation with matter, biological effects, detection and measurement. Laboratory exercises emphasize radiation detection and measurement techniques using both fixed and portable instrumentation.

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  • Medical Radiation Safety Training Officer Course instructor and students

    Medical Radiation Safety Officer

    This five-day lecture/laboratory course introduces course participants to current issues and technologies in the medical applications of radiation. The issues and technologies are discussed in the context of improving and developing an institution’s radiation safety program.

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  • MARSAME Course student in class


    This four-day training course focuses on the methodology and practical application of the MARSAME standard. This standard supplements the MARSSIM manual that has become the basis for real property final status surveys. The objective of the course is to provide attendees with a solid understanding of the MARSAME standard, practice through exercise and provide practical information related to its implementation.

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  • MARSSIM Training Course instructor in class


    This five-day course emphasizes the decision-making processes involved in the design and implementation of a MARSSIM-based decommissioning survey. Topics include an overview of radiological survey types, the data quality objectives process, selection and application of DCGLs, background reference area selection, survey instrument detection sensitivity, area classification, statistical design of surveys, measurement uncertainty and performing statistical tests.

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  • Human figure showing circulatory system

    Occupational Internal Dosimetry

    This five-day course is designed to provide course participants with a thorough understanding of current methods for determining radiation doses resulting from intakes of radioactive materials by workers. The course covers the basic concepts and principles of internal dose assessments, and describes the ICRP internal dosimetry systems and models currently in use in the United States and internationally.

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  • Radiation Safety Officer Training Course equipment

    Radiation Safety Officer Training

    This five-day lecture/laboratory course introduces course participants to relevant issues that influence the effectiveness of a radiation safety program. The course emphasizes a variety of administrative and technical issues that a radiation safety officer has to address. An interactive format offers the opportunity for instructor/group discussions to facilitate the learning process.

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  • Worker conducting site characterization survey

    Site Characterization in Support of Decommissioning

    This five-day course emphasizes site evaluation, data planning, survey implementation and tools, data interpretation, and decision-making processes involved in the historical site assessment, scoping survey and characterization survey phases of decommissioning. Topics include: site assessment, surveys for radiological and chemical contaminants, data quality objectives and assessments, safety evaluations, planning and budgeting.

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Gilbert U-239 Geiger Counter

ORAU is home to the largest collection of historical health physics instruments

The ORAU Health Physics Historical Instrumentation Museum Collection chronicles the scientific and commercial history of radioactivity and radiation. The collection is located at our health physics training facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 

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