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A large number of units has been proposed and used in the course of historical development and research in the field of radioactivity. Only those which have survived to today shall be used and defined here. I will introduce the modern units which are recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). In addition, I will also mention those units which are still in use in countries like in the USA, and give the relations to the ICRPrecommended units used in Europe and elsewhere.
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2 Units of Radiation Protection
“All composed things tend to decay.
Buddha 563–483 B. C.
A large number of units has been proposed and used in the course
of historical development and research in the field of radioactivity.
Only those which have survived to today shall be used and defined
here. I will introduce the modern units which are recommended by
the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).
In addition, I will also mention those units which are still in use
in countries like in the USA, and give the relations to the ICRP-
recommended units used in Europe and elsewhere.
The unit of activity is becquerel (Bq). 1 Bq is one decay per sec-
1 becquerel (Bq) =
1 decay per second ond. The old unit curie (Ci) corresponds to the activity of 1 g of
1 curie (Ci) =3.7×1010 Bq radium-226:1
1 Ci =3.7×1010 Bq ,
1 Bq =27 ×1012 Ci =27 pCi .(2.1)
In radioactive decays the number of decaying nuclei 1Nis pro-
portional to the number of existing nuclei Nand the observation
time 1t. The number of nuclei decreases by decay. This fact gives
the negative sign for 1N. Therefore, one has
1N∼ −N1t.(2.2)
Since the decay rate changes in time it makes sense to use very
small, indeed infinitesimal times dtand numbers dN(see Appendix
dN∼ −Ndt.(2.3)
Starting from this relation one obtains the equation by introducing a
constant of proportionality, namely, the decay constant λ,
decay constant
1Because of the frequently occurring very large and very small numbers
I will use throughout the notation using powers, e.g. 106=1 000 000
and 106=0.000 001. A word of caution is in order here: A billion is
in most parts of the world 109while in some parts, e.g. in Germany, a
billion is 1012.
C. Grupen, Introduction to Radiation Protection,
Graduate Texts in Physics, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-02586-0_2,
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010
2. Units of Radiation Protection 5
dN= −λNdt.(2.4)
Such a differential equation can be solved generally by the so-called
exponential function (see Appendix Q):
N0characterizes the number of nuclei existing at time t=0, i.e.
the number of originally existing atomic nuclei. The number e =
2.718 28 ... is the basis of the natural logarithm (see Appendix Q).
Since the exponent of the exponential function has to be without
dimension, the physical unit of the decay constant is second1. The
decay constant λis related to the lifetime of the radioactive source lifetime
One has to distinguish the half-life T1/2from the lifetime. The half- half-life
life is the time after which a half of the initially existing atomic
nuclei has decayed. After another half-life a half of the remaining
nuclei will have decayed, so that one is left with only one quarter of
the original nuclei. That means, say, after 10 half-lives, there is still
a fraction of 210 nuclei which has not decayed. Because of
we will get, applying the rules of exponential functions and natural
logarithms as explained in Appendix Q,2
T1/2=ln 2
or T1/2=τln 2 .(2.8)
The decay constant λof an unstable radioactive nucleus is obtained
τ=ln 2
The activity Aof a radioactive source characterizes the number of activity
decays per second. Therefore, the activity Ais equal to the change
2The exponential function exand the natural logarithm ln xare operations
which are available on most, even simple, non-scientific pocket calcula-
6 2. Units of Radiation Protection
rate 1Nof existing atomic nuclei in the time 1t. Because a de-
creasing number of atomic nuclei represents a positive activity, one
A= 1N
For infinitesimal time intervals dtone has
A= dN
With the help of Eq. (2.5) and the rules of calculus as presented in
Appendix Q one obtains:
A= − d
Radioactive sources with a large lifetime τ(or, equivalently,
half-life T1/2) naturally have lower activities if a given number of
nuclei is considered.
The activity in Bq does not say very much about possible bi-
ological effects. These are related to the deposited energy by the
radioactive source in matter. The energy dose D(absorbed energy
energy dose
“I rather stick to the old activity unit.
‘Micro-curie’ sounds so much better
than ‘mega-becquerel’!”
°by Claus Grupen
2. Units of Radiation Protection 7
1Wper mass unit 1m),
(ρ– density, 1V– volume element3), is measured in gray: gray
1 gray (Gy) =1 joule (J) / 1 kilogram (kg) . (2.14)
Gray is related to the old unit rad (radiation absorbed dose, 1 rad =
100 erg/g; still in use in the US) according to:41 Gy =1 J/1 kg
1 Gy =100 rad
1 Gy =100 rad .(2.15)
For indirectly ionizing radiation (i.e. photons and neutrons, but not
electrons and other charged particles) a further quantity character-
izing the energy dose, the ‘kerma’, is defined. Kerma is an abbre- kerma
viation for “kinetic energy released per unit mass”.5The kerma k
is defined as the sum of the initial energies of all charged particles,
1E, liberated in a volume element 1Vby indirectly ionizing radi-
ation divided by the mass 1mof this volume element:
where ρis the density of the absorbing material.
We see that kerma relates only to the energy transferred to the
charged particles: it does not depend on which fraction of the ener-
gies of the charged particles is transported out of the volume by par-
ticle motion or by bremsstrahlung. Therefore, kerma is sometimes dose unit of the first
interaction step
also called dose unit of the first interaction step. The unit of kerma
is also gray (Gy).
Gray and rad describe the pure physical energy absorption.
These units cannot easily be translated into the biological effect of
radiation. Electrons, for example, ionize relatively weakly while,
in contrast, αrays are characterized by a high ionization density.
Therefore, biological repair mechanisms cannot be very effective in
the latter case. The relative biological effectiveness (RBE) depends relative biological
on the type of radiation, the radiation energy, the temporal distribu-
tion of the dose, and other quantities. The relative biological effec-
tiveness is a factor by which we have to multiply the energy dose D
3A volume element, sometimes also called ‘unit volume’, is the differ-
ential element 1Vwhose volume integral over some range in a given
coordinate system gives the total volume V.
41 joule (J)=1 watt second (W s)=1kg m2
s2=107g cm2
5Occasionally one also finds “kinetic energy released in matter (or: in
8 2. Units of Radiation Protection
of our chosen type of radiation giving the energy dose Dγof X rays
or γrays which would have the same biological effect,
RBE =Dγ/D.(2.17)
Since it is not always known in radiation protection which bio-
logical effects one has to refer to in a specific case, instead of the
complicated energy-, radiation-, and dose-rate-dependent RBE fac-
tors one uses the so-called quality factor Qto assess the effect of a
physical energy deposition. This leads to the dose equivalent H,dose equivalent
H=Q f D .(2.18)
His measured in sievert (Sv). The factor fconsiders further
radiation-relevant factors such as the dose-rate dependence or re-
duced biological effects by a periodic irradiation. Such a technique
of intermittent radiation is used in cancer therapy: if a patient should
receive, say, a dose of 2 Sv to destroy a tumor, this dose is applied
e.g. in ten separate fractions of 0.2 Sv, because in the intervals be-
tween these fractions the healthy tissue will recover more easily in
contrast to the tumor tissue. A typical interval between subsequent
fractions of irradiations is a day. All in all the product of the quality
factor Qand the modifying factor fassesses the biological radia-
tion effect of an absorbed dose D. Therefore, this product q=Q f
is called the weighting factor. Since both the quality factor Qandweighting factor
the correction factor fare dimensionless, so is the weighting factor
q, and the unit of the equivalent dose is also J/kg.6The old unit rem
(roentgen equivalent man), still in use in the United States, is related
to sievert according to1 Sv =100 rem
1 Sv =100 rem .(2.19)
Nowadays the weighting factors qare called radiation weighting
factors following a recommendation by the International Commis-
sion on Radiological Protection. These radiation weighting factors
wRdepend on the type of radiation and for neutrons also on their
radiation weighting factors
energy. The most recent definition of radiation weighting factors
following the recommendation of the International Commission on
Radiological Protection is given in Table 2.1.
For the radiation field Rone gets the dose equivalent HRfrom
the energy dose DRaccording to
6The energy dose Dis measured in Gy and the equivalent dose Hin Sv,
therefore, the weighting factor qin principle has the unit Sv/Gy. How-
ever, both Gy and Sv have the same physical unit J/kg, where Gy only
considers the physical effect while Sv also takes the biological effect into
2. Units of Radiation Protection 9
“Atomic progress is quite educating!”
after Jupp Wolter
Table 2.1
Radiation weighting factors wR7
type of radiation and energy range radiation
weighting factor wR
photons, all energies 1
electrons and muons8, all energies 1
neutrons En<10 keV 5
neutrons 10 keV En100 keV 10
neutrons 100 keV <En2 MeV 20
neutrons 2 MeV <En20 MeV 10
neutrons with En>20 MeV 5
protons, except recoil protons, E>2 MeV 5
αparticles, fission fragments, heavy nuclei 20
Figure 2.1 shows photographic records taken with a diffusion cloud
chamber in normal air. They clearly demonstrate the strong ionizing
effect of αparticles from the radon decay chain (left). At the same
time the weakly ionizing effect of decay electrons is visible. Their
tracks in the diffusion cloud chamber are characterized by multiple
scattering and large bending angles (right image).
Apart from these units another quantity is used for the amount of
created charge, the roentgen (R). One roentgen is that radiation dose roentgen
of X rays and γrays, which liberates one electrostatic charge unit
7The energy-dependent radiation weighting factor for neutrons can be ap-
proximated by the function wR=5+17 e1
6(ln(2En))2, where the neu-
tron energy Enis measured in MeV.
8Muons are short-lived elementary particles which are produced predom-
inantly in cosmic radiation (see also Sect. 11.1).
10 2. Units of Radiation Protection
Figure 2.1
Tracks of αparticles and electrons
in a diffusion cloud chamber
exposed to normal air in buildings.
The different lengths and widths of
α-particle tracks (left image)
originate from projection effects
of electrons and one of ions in 1 cm3of air (at standard temperature
and pressure).
If the unit roentgen is expressed by the ion dose Iin coulomb/kg,
ion dose
one obtains
1 R =2.58 ×104C/kg .(2.21)
The tissue equivalent of roentgen is given by
1 R =0.88 rad =8.8 mGy .(2.22)
For an approximate estimate of body doses for photon radiation it is
generally sufficient to work out the photon equivalent dose accord-
ing to
where ISis the standard ion dose in roentgen and the scale factor is
scale factor
given by
η=38.8 Sv (C/kg)1=0.01 Sv/R.(2.24)
To consider the time dependence of the dose equivalent or ion
dose, we use the dose rate. The energy-dose rate is the change of
dose rate
the energy dose 1Din the time 1t. Since the dose rate changes
rapidly, particularly for radioactive sources with short half-life, it is
advisable to use the differential notation (see Appendix Q). Depend-
ing on whether one prefers the notation ( d
dt) introduced by Leibniz
or the notation favored by Newton, as characterized by a dot over
the quantity, one writes for the energy-dose rate
Correspondingly, also the dose-equivalent rate is given by
dose-equivalent rate
2. Units of Radiation Protection 11
and the ion-dose rate by ion-dose rate
The physical units of these quantities are:
D] = J
kg s =W s
kg s =W
kg ,(2.28)
H] = [ ˙
I] = C
kg s =A s
kg s =A
kg .(2.30)
Dand ˙
Hare therefore measured in watt per kilogram and ˙
Iin am-
pere per kg.
The received dose can be related to the whole body (whole-body whole-body and partial-body
dose) or also only to specific parts of the body (partial-body dose).
The dose equivalent that has accumulated within 50 years after a
single incorporation9of radioactive substances in a certain organ or
tissue is called ‘50-years dose-equivalent commitment’. 50-years dose-equivalent
If a radiation exposure with an average per capita dose-equiva-
lent rate ˙
H(t)for a population group over an extended period has
occurred, a dose-equivalent commitment is defined by dose-equivalent commitment
H(t) 1t,(2.31)
where one has to sum over the relevant time intervals 1t. If this dose
rate ˙
H(t)does not depend on the time, one has
H t ,(2.32)
where tis the considered time interval.
The collective dose is the product of the total number of persons collective dose
Nby one person’s average dose hHiin sievert or, more generally,
the collective equivalent dose Sis
9When radioactive substances enter the human body, the radiation effects
are different from those resulting from exposure to an external radiation
source. Especially in the case of alpha radiation, which has a rather short
range and normally never penetrates the skin, the exposure can be much
more damaging after ingestion or inhalation. The terms ingestion and
inhalation and the intake of radioactive compounds through wounds after
accidents are usually subsumed under the expression incorporation.
12 2. Units of Radiation Protection
Table 2.2
Tissue weighting factors wT
organ or tissue tissue weighting factor wT
gonads 0.20
red bone marrow 0.12
colon 0.12
lung 0.12
stomach 0.12
bladder 0.05
chest 0.05
liver 0.05
esophagus 0.05
thyroid gland 0.05
skin 0.01
periosteum (bone surface) 0.01
other organs or tissue 0.05
where hHkiis the per capita equivalent dose in an interval Hk...
Hk+1Hkand Pkthe number of persons with radiation exposures
in this interval.
In many cases it is necessary to convert a partial-body dose into
a whole-body dose. Therefore, a weighting factor wThas to be at-
tributed to the irradiated organs of the body. This effective dose
effective dose equivalent
equivalent is defined as
Heff =
where HTis the average dose equivalent in the irradiated organ or
tissue and wTis the weighting factor for the Tth organ or tissue.10
For the purpose of radiation protection it is simply defined that
the human has thirteen ‘organs’. The weighting factors are normal-
tissue weighting factor
ized to 1 (Pwi=1). These tissue weighting factors are compiled
in Table 2.2.
It is assumed that the inhomogeneous irradiation of the body
with an effective dose equivalent Heff bears the same radiation riskradiation risk
as a homogeneous whole-body irradiation with H=Heff.
The determination of the dose-equivalent rate by a pointlike ra-
diation source of activity Acan be accomplished using the following
In this equation ris the distance from the radiation source (in me-
ters) and Γa specific radiation constant which depends on the type
and energy of the radiation. For βrays additionally the traveling
10 In some cases the effective dose equivalent Heff is also denoted with E
in order to stress that in this case we are dealing with an effective dose.
2. Units of Radiation Protection 13
Table 2.3
Dose constants Γfor some β- and
γ-ray emitters11
radioisotope βdose constant
³Sv m2
Bq h ´
15P 9.05 ×1012
27Co 2.62 ×1011
38Sr 2.00 ×1011
53I 1.73 ×1011
81Tl 1.30 ×1011
radioisotope γdose constant
³Sv m2
Bq h ´
18Ar 1.73 ×1013
27Co 3.41 ×1013
36Kr 3.14 ×1016
53I 5.51 ×1014
54Xe 3.68 ×1015
55Cs 8.46 ×1014
distance of electrons has to be considered. Table 2.3 lists the βand
γdose constants for some commonly used radiation sources. The dose constant
1/r2dependence of the dose-equivalent rate is easily understood, if
one considers that for isotropic emission (i.e. equally in all direc-
tions) the irradiated area for larger distances increases quadratically
with distance r. The radiation emerging from the source has to pass
through the surface of the virtual sphere (surface of sphere =4πr2),
consequently the radiation intensity per unit area decreases like 1/r21/r2law
(‘solid-angle effect’).
The differences in the βand γdose constants originate from
the fact that electrons will normally deposit all of their energy in
the body while the absorption power of the body for γrays is energy absorption
much smaller. Differences in the βor γdose constants for differ-
ent radioisotopes have their origin in the different energy of the
11 A chemical element is characterized by the number of positively charged
nucleons (i.e. protons, with proton number =Z). Furthermore there are
neutrons in the atomic nucleus which are essential for the binding of
nuclei (neutron number =N). The atomic mass Ais given by the sum
of the proton and neutron numbers Z+N. Nuclei with fixed proton
number but variable neutron number are called isotopes of the element
with the atomic number Z. Isotopes which are radioactive are called
radioisotopes. An isotope is characterized by the number of protons Z
and neutrons Nusing the notation A
ZElement. Since the name of the ele-
ment is uniquely determined by Z, this index is frequently omitted, e.g.
55Cesium or 137 Cesium.
14 2. Units of Radiation Protection
© by Claus Grupen
emitted βand γrays. As an example 137Cs radiates a photon of
energy 662 keV and 60 Co two γrays with energies 1.17 MeV and
1.33 MeV. Consequently the γdose constant for 60 Co is larger than
for 137Cs, even though the absorption coefficient for MeV photons
is somewhat smaller compared to 662-keV photons.
A pointlike 137Cs γ-ray emitter of activity 10 MBq produces a
dose-equivalent rate of 0.846 µSv/h at a distance of 1m. A 60Co
source of the same activity leads to a dose-equivalent rate of 3.41
µSv/h at the same distance. The dose-rate ratio of these two sources
dose-rate ratio
corresponds roughly to the ratio of the deposited energies.
2.1 Supplementary Information
A radiation officer detects a contamination with 131I in a medicalExample 1
contamination laboratory which leads to an ambient-dose rate of 1 mSv/h. He de-
ambient-dose rate cides to seal the room and wait until the activity due to the iodine
contamination has decayed to such a level that the ambient-dose rate
is only 1 µSv/h. For how long has the room to be sealed?
The half-life of the 131I isotope is 8 days. The dose rate and
consequently the activity should be reduced by a factor of 1000.
The decay law
leads to a time dependence of the activity Alike
decay time constant
2.1 Supplementary Information 15
where A0is the initial activity. With A/A0=103and τ=
T1/2/ln 2 one has
exp µtln 2
t=¡T1/2/ln 2¢ln 1000 =79.7 days .
Consequently about 10 half-lives ((1/2)10 =1/1024) are required
to reach the necessary reduction factor.
A historical example for the specific activity leads to the definition Example 2
specific activity
of the old unit curie:
The half-life of 226Ra is 1600 years. This leads to the specific
activity (i.e. the activity per gram) of:
A=λN=ln 2
=ln 2
1600 yr
6.022 ×1023
=3.7×1010 Bq =1 curie .
(NAis the Avogadro constant and MRa the atomic weight of 226 Ra-
dium, 1 yr =3.1536 ×107s.)
The radiation units presented so far have been recommended by the Example 3
International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). In ad-
dition, also the International Commission on Radiation Units and
Measurement (ICRU) has proposed a slightly modified concept of modified dose quantities
dose quantities in the field of radiation protection. These quantities
differ from the units presented so far by higher specialization and
stronger formalization. These specialized dosimetric units are fre-
quently used in national radiation-protection regulations.
If in a specific tissue, organ, or part of the body, T, the energy
dose DT,Ris caused by a radiation field of type R, then the equiva- radiation field
lent or organ dose is obtained by using the radiation weighting factor
wRas follows:
where wRis the radiation weighting factor given in Table 2.1.
Equation (2.36) defines the partial-body doses Tfor a given ra-
diation field R. If several different types of radiation (α,β,γ,n)radiation quality
work together, the corresponding partial-body dose is given by
16 2. Units of Radiation Protection
The effective dose equivalent Heff =Ecan be derived from Eq.
(2.37) by weighting the different energy doses with the tissue weight-
ing factors wT, which have been presented in Table 2.2:
E=Heff =X
Furthermore, dose units for penetrating external radiation (deposit-
ing most of their energy in the first 10 mm of tissue) and for radiation
of low penetration depth (70 µm skin depth) have been introduced in
many national radiation-protection regulations. In personal dosime-
operative units
of personal dosimetry try these operative units are denoted with Hp(10),Hp(0.07).
In the past these operative units had been determined with film
badges (see Sect. 5.6). However, the measurement of the depth doses
Hp(10)and Hp(0.07)with film badges is not very accurate. A pre-
depth dose
cise value for the skin dose as derived from the penetration depth
of the radiation can be obtained with more sophisticated dosimeters.
Such a new type of dosimeter, called ‘sliding-shadow’ dosimeter,
has been developed, which allows a reliable determination of the
skin doses.12 These dosimeters are optimized for a depth-dose de-
‘sliding-shadow’ method
termination and allow at the same time a determination of energy
and angle of incidence of photons, and they can further discriminate
between βand γrays.
The availability of this new measurement technique necessitated
to convert the hitherto existing quantities Hp(10)and Hp(0.07)into
the new quantities H(10)and H(0.07). The conversion factors
depend on the photon energy and the angle of incidence. For en-
vironmental radiation, γrays or X rays from X-ray tubes with ac-
celerating voltages below 50 kV and above 400 kV the conversion
factor is 1; i.e. the old and new depth doses are identical. For γ
conversion factor
for depth doses rays from radioactive sources which are frequently used as X-ray
sources (e.g. 57Co, 67 Ga, 75Se, 99mTc, 153 Gd, 153Sm, 169Yb, 170Tm,
186Re, 192 Ir, 197Hg, 199Au, 201 Tl, 241Am) and for the radiation field
of X-ray tubes operated with accelerating voltages between 50 kV
and 400 kV, the conversion factors are H(10)/Hp(10)=1.3 and
H(0.07)/Hp(0.07)=1.3. This means that the depth doses as de-
termined with the old film badges have to be increased by 30%.
More details on the new skin doses can be found in the article
“New quantities in radiation protection and conversion coefficients”
12 These ‘sliding-shadow’ dosimeters use a special arrangement of struc-
tured metal and plastic filters and directional indicators. In addition, β
rays can be distinguished from γrays, which is essential for a reliable
individual depth-dose information. The different absorption coefficients
of the filters used allow an accurate measurement of the skin dose over a
wide energy range. The basic detector behind the arrangement of filters
is still a sensitive film, like in the old film badge.
2.1 Supplementary Information 17
Proposal for a new unit for radiation protection
The common units for radiation doses (Gy, Sv) are not very persuasive for a broader audience. The layman
also has difficulties to interpret a dose given in Gy or Sv. Even relatively low radiation exposures which can
only be detected because of extraordinarily sensitive measurement devices (one can measure the decay of
individual atomic nuclei without difficulty) occasionally lead to over-reactions in public discussions. It is,
however, very important to express radiation levels, caused, for example, by CASTOR transports or nuclear
power plants, in units which can be understood and interpreted by the layman. It is perfectly sufficient to
appreciate the order of magnitude of a radiation exposure, i.e., in easily comprehensible and self-explaining
units which can be judged upon intuitively.
Mankind has developed with permanent natural radiation caused by cosmic rays and terrestrial rays and by
permanent incorporation by ingestion and inhalation of natural radioisotopes. There are no hints whatsoever
that this radiation has created any biological defect, it may even have increased the biodiversity. The natural
radiation dose is subject to regional variations, but the natural annual radiation dose does not fall below
2 mSv for anybody. This natural annual dose sets the scale on which to judge on additional radiation burdens
by civilization, for example, by medical diagnosis.
It is therefore proposed to use this typical value of the inevitable annual dose (IAD) due to natural radiation
as a scale against which additional radiation exposures should be judged in discussions in the public:13
1 IAD =2 mSv .
In these units the following table gives some typical radiation exposures.
type of radiation exposure dose in IAD
X-ray of a tooth 0.005
radiation level by nuclear power plants 0.01/yr
CASTOR transport for accompanying persons 0.015
air flight London – New York 0.015
X-ray of the chest 0.05
mammography 0.25
scintigraphy of the thyroid gland 0.40
heavy smoker (more than 20 cigarettes per day) 0.50/yr
positron-emission tomography 4.0
computer tomography of the chest 5.0
limit for radiation-exposed persons in Europe 10
limit for radiation-exposed persons in the USA 25
maximum life dose for radiation-exposed persons in Europe 200
lethal dose 2000
local cancer therapy 30 000
Based on these numbers everybody can judge independently on the realistic risk caused by radiation
13 G. Charpak and R. L. Garwin proposed a similar unit; they set the scale by the body-intrinsic radioactivity
which leads to an annual radiation dose of 0.2 mSv. They named this dose 1 DARI, where the acronym DARI
stands for Dose Annuelle due aux Radiations Internes. Europhysics News 33/1, p. 14 (2002).
18 2. Units of Radiation Protection
published by the British Committee on Radiation Units and Mea-
surements (see also J. Soc. Radiol. Prot. Vol. 6, p. 131–136, (1986)).
The essential units of radiation protection are becquerel (Bq) for
the activity, gray (Gy) for the purely physical energy deposi-
tion per mass unit, and sievert (Sv) for the energy dose weighted
by the biological effectiveness. A further characteristic quantity
for a radioactive isotope is its half-life T1/2. Radioisotopes with
large half-lives are associated with a low activity, and those with
short half-lives with a high one. The activity alone is not a good
measure for a possible biological damage. This damage depends
on the type of emitter and, of course, on the distance to the radi-
ation source.
2.2 Problems
A radioactive material possesses an approximately constant gammaProblem 1
activity of 1 GBq. Per decay 1.5MeV are liberated. What is the daily
energy dose if the ionizing radiation is absorbed in an amount of
material of mass m=10 kg?
In a nuclear physics laboratory a researcher has inhaled dust of aProblem 2
90Sr isotope by accident, which has lead to a dose rate of 1 µSv/h
in his body. The physical half-life of 90Sr is 28.5 yrs, the biological
half-life for retention in the lung (see Chap. 13, Page 217) is only
80 days. How long does it take until the dose rate has decreased to
(The biological half-life is defined by the time until 50% of the ac-
tivity is eliminated by the body by normal biological activity.)
At a distance of 2 m from a pointlike 60Co source a dose rate ofProblem 3
100 µSv/h is measured. What is the activity of the source?
(To solve this problem you should use information from Figs. 3.4
and 4.4.)
The radioisotope technetium 99m is frequently used in nuclear med-Problem 4
nuclear medicine icine. 99mTc is a metastable state of 99 Tc, it has a half-life of 6 h.
What kind of activity has a patient who was administered an activity
of 10 MBq 99m Tc for a kidney examination after a period of two
days? For this estimate one can assume that the effective half-life
can be approximated by the physical half-life.
Objectives: The objectives of this article are to provide the reader with (a) a brief discussion of actual, perceived, and acceptable risks associated with radiation exposure; (b) a basic review of radiation protection units and a discussion as to how these units are used to estimate risk associated with occupational radiation exposure; (c) a summary of radiation doses required for specific human biologic responses and a comparison of relative doses encountered in a variety of clinical situations; and (d) a practical approach to discussing relative risks associated with medical radiation exposures when patients inquire.
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