Managing radiation in NSW

Radiation is used widely in healthcare, research and commercial activities. NSW radiation laws aim to protect people and the environment by minimising harmful radiation exposure, while enabling the beneficial use of radiation.

The EPA regulates the use of radiation through the Protection from Harmful Radiation Act 1990 (the Act) and Protection from Harmful Radiation Regulation 2013 (the Regulation) (formerly known as the Radiation Control Act 1990 and Radiation Control Regulation 2013).

The radiation laws were amended in October 2023 to increase and strengthen the safety measures around radiation to protect human and environmental health.

Find out more about the changes.

Objects of the Act

The objects of the Act are

  • to secure the protection of persons and the environment from exposure to ionising and harmful non-ionising radiation to the maximum extent that is reasonably practicable, taking into account social and economic factors and recognising the need for the use of radiation for beneficial purposes
  • to protect security-enhanced sources from misuse that may result in harm to people or the environment
  • to promote the radiation protection principles
  • to promote the ecologically sustainable development principles.

A person is to take the radiation protection principles into consideration when exercising functions under this Act or under a licence. The radiation protection principles are

  • justification of a practice by assessing that the benefits of the practice involving exposure to ionising radiation outweigh any detriment.
  • optimisation of protection by ensuring that each of the following is kept as low as reasonably achievable taking into account economic and social factors
    • the magnitude of individual doses of ionising radiation
    • the number of people exposed to ionising radiation
    • the likelihood of exposure to ionising radiation.
  • dose and risk limitation by setting dose limits or imposing other measures so that the health risks to any person exposed to ionising radiation is kept below levels that are generally considered to be unacceptable.

A person must also take the ecologically sustainable development principles into consideration when exercising functions under this Act or a licence. These principles are set out in section 6(2) of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. 

EPA activities under the Act

The EPA has certain regulatory powers under the Act and Regulation which include regulating the use, sale, giving away, disposal, storage, possession, transport, installation, maintenance or repair, remediation or clean-up of regulated material (radioactive substances, ionising radiation apparatus, non-ionising radiation apparatus of a kind prescribed by the Regulations and sealed source devices) in NSW.

The EPA areas of responsibility include

The Act empowers the EPA to manage radiation risks and enforce its requirements. The EPA's activities include:


  • review user and management licences
  • provide advice to the public on radiation matters
  • maintain databases of licensees
  • maintain a public register of licences.

Accreditation of Consulting Radiation Experts and Radiation Security Assessors

  • assess accreditation applications
  • maintain databases of accreditations
  • maintain a public register of accreditations.

Enforcement and compliance

  • undertake enforcement action where appropriate
  • conduct investigations and audits.

Radiation accidents

  • maintain a 24-hour emergency response service
  • investigate radiation incidents and complaints.

Policy development

  • provide policy advice to the Government, Minister and the EPA
  • develop policies, guidelines and amendments to the Act and Regulations
  • develop conditions of licences and accreditation
  • liaise with universities and professional associations to develop appropriate training courses
  • provide community education and advice for industry
  • participate in committees developing national policy and codes of practice.

Radiation Advisory Council functions under the Act

The Radiation Advisory Council is constituted under section 29 of the Act and consists of a minimum of 12 members appointed by the Chief Executive Officer of the EPA.

The council's functions include advising the EPA on:

  • the administration of the Act and Regulation
  • licensing and accreditations under the Act
  • measures to prevent or minimise the dangers arising from radiation
  • other functions as are conferred or imposed on it by or under the Act.

The EPA provides administrative support to the council. 

Other radiation responsibilities

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

For information on

  • Powerlines
  • Smart meters
  • Radio frequency electromagnetic radiation emissions from mobile phone base stations
  • Mobile phones and health
  • Solar ultraviolet radiation exposure
  • Cosmic radiation exposure when flying
  • Lasers (see also EPA information on lasers) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) sources used for cosmetic purposes
  • Radon in homes
  • Microwaves
  • Radiation matters pertaining to Commonwealth-regulated sites which are located in NSW, i.e. army, defence, CSIRO and ANSTO.

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO)

  • Depleted uranium used for radiation shielding i.e. used in transport packaging.

Department of Regional NSW

  • For information on uranium exploration and radioactive ore being prospected, mined or treated  visit the NSW Resources Regulator.
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