Radioactive Substances and Ionizing Radiation – FLSA Child Labor Laws for 16 and 17 Year Olds

The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from employing any child under 18 years of age in occupations involving exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations because they have been deemed to be particularly hazardous for them or detrimental to their health of well-being. 29 CFR 570.57(a) Occupations involving exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiations include:

  • any work in a workroom where:
    • radium is stored or used in the manufacture or self-luminous compound
    • self-luminous compound is made, processed, or packaged
    • self-luminous compound is stored, used, or worked on
    • incandescent mantles are made from fabric and solutions containing thorium salts, or are processed or packaged
    • other radioactive substances are present in the air in average concentrations exceeding 10 percent of the maximum permissible concentrations in the air recommended for occupational exposure by the National Committee on Radiation Protection, as set forth in the 40-hour week column of table one of the National Bureau of Standards Handbook No. 69 entitled “Maximum Permissible Body Burdens and Maximum Permissible Concentrations of Radionuclides in Air and in Water for Occupational Exposure,” issued June 5, 1959.
  • any other work that involves exposure to ionizing radiations in excess of 0.5 rem per year.

29 CFR 570.57(a)

Self-luminous compounds

Self-luminous compounds mean any mixture of phosphorescent material and radium, mesothorium, or other radioactive element. 29 CFR 570.57(b)(1)


For purposes of this restriction on youth labor, workroom includes the entire area bounded by walls of solid material and extending from floor to ceiling. 29 CFR 570.57(b)(2)

Ionizing radiations

Ionizing radiations include alpha and beta particles, electrons, protons, neutrons, gamma and X-ray and all other radiations which produce ionizations directly or indirectly. They do not include electromagnetic radiations other than gamma and X-ray. 29 CFR 570.57(b)(3)

Age certification

Employers who employ minors are not in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor laws if they keep on file unexpired certificates of age for each minor employed which shows the minor is the appropriate age for the work being performed, even if the child turns out not to be the appropriate age. 29 US Code 203(l)(2); 29 CFR 570.5(a); 29 CFR 570.38; 29 CFR 570.121 For more information, visit our page on Age Certificates.