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Possessors and Distributors Require NRC Licensing if Watches Contain Tritium

Jun 15, 2015 12:18 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reminded both manufacturers and distributors of watches that contain tritium that licensing is required by initial possessors and by distributors of any consumer products containing nuclear material, to ensure they do not present a risk to the public or the environment, according to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC).  Tritium is a nuclear material used to create a glow-in-the-dark effect on watch faces and hands.  

The JVC defined two separate licenses that are required.  Entities that manufacture, process or produce watches containing tritium are required to have a “Possession and Use” license, which also allows the transfer of watches to any other entity that has a possession and use license. 

Most U.S. states have agreements with the NRC, allowing them to issue  Possession and Use licenses, according to the JVC, which advised companies located in  non-agreement states to apply directly to the NRC for a license.  Information about the NRC’s Agreement State Program can be found on the agency’s website at

The second, the “Exempt Distribution” license, is issued by the NRC and is required to distribute watches to companies or persons that are unlicensed and considered exempt from NRC regulatory authority, the JVC stated.  Most entities that acquire a Possession and Use license will also need an Exempt Distribution license.   

The JVC noted that distributors of watches with tritium may elect to partner with third-party holders of the appropriate license, rather than obtaining the license themselves.  Distributors may engage the services of licensed entities, but should take steps to ensure that these entities are in complete compliance with NRC regulations.

Foreign vendors that have established an address in the U.S. where the NRC can inspect the vendor’s activities and records are qualified to apply for an NRC license, the JVC stated.  
Regulatory controls regarding the possession, use and distribution of watches containing tritium are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations at 10 CFR 30.15(a)(1) and 32.14.  These regulations can be accessed at the NRC's website:


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Tags: glow in the dark, Jeff Miller, Jewelers Vigilance Committee, regulations, timepieces, tritium, watches
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