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Alternative Technologies for Industrial Applications

Radiation Source Reduction & Management
 Source Reduction  Source Tracking   Orphan Source Detection
  and Response
 Orphan Source Recovery

Approximately 25 different radionuclides are used in industrial devices, such as radiography cameras and devices for measuring moisture, density, or thickness of materials. These devices perform important functions in industry. However, at the end of their useful life, their radioactive sources present a significant waste management problem. If mismanaged, they also present a potential threat to the environment and human health.

EPA is seeking to reduce the number of sealed radiation sources used in industrial devices and applications. Through its Alternative Technologies Initiative, the Agency has been working with industry since 2001 to identify non-nuclear substitutes.

The following principles guide EPA’s Alternative Technologies Initiative:

The first step is to identify substitutes that are technically and economically advantageous. During this process, EPA takes into account the human health and environmental effects of each potential technology's entire life-cycle to ensure minimum impact from the final selection. (See Product Stewardship) Once a technology is selected, EPA and industry work together to identify and remove barriers to its use.

On this page:

Why is EPA concerned about the use of radionuclides?

EPA has a number of concerns about the consequences of using radionuclides in industrial devices:

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What are the benefits of alternative technologies to the economy?

Non-nuclear alternatives offer both government and end-users in industry economic and safety benefits:

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How can I contact the Alternative Technologies Initiative?

Contact us at the following address:

Alternative Technologies Initiative
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, MC 6608T
Washington, DC 20640

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Will EPA require the use of alternative technologies?

No. The Alternative Technologies Initiative is part of EPA's efforts to prevent the loss of radioactive sources. Because EPA does not have regulatory authority over the sealed sources commonly used in industrial devices, it has focused on voluntary efforts both to find and secure sources that have fallen out regulatory control and to prevent the loss of additional sources.

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Who is participating in the Alternative Technologies Initiative?

EPA is working with the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) Exit EPA Disclaimer, a national non-profit organization focused on reducing the health and environmental impacts of consumer products. PSI fulfills several roles:

EPA has also established an expert panel of representatives from federal and state governments. The expert panel also fills several roles:

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What is the focus of EPA's initial research?

Initial research focused on three areas:

The research revealed a number of factors that helped guide the Initiative:

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What are the next steps for the Alternative Technologies Initiative?

EPA will continue to build informal partnerships around technical, application-specific projects. Priority applications include radiography cameras, fixed gauges, portable gauges, and well logging. As specific projects are developed, EPA will convene interested stakeholders and applying successful models from earlier projects.

Significant activities:

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