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Monitoring Gamma Radiation

The Neighborhood Environmental Watch Network, known as NEWNET, is able to give early indications of increases in radiation due to radioactive particulates in the air.

NEWNET's Radiation Quiz

Here is a simple quiz on some basic facts about radiation.

  1. Background radiation levels:
    A. Are constant world-wide, except during times of solar flares.
    B. Decrease with elevation.
    C. Depend on altitude and type of rock or soil in the area.

    Check the answer

    The correct answer is C.

    Background levels vary greatly with elevation and local soil and rock, and generally increase with elevation.

  2. There are a number of types of nuclear radiation, such as alpha, beta, and gamma rays. Gamma radiation is:
    A. High energy electrons.
    B. High energy neutrons.
    C. High energy protons.
    D. High energy helium nuclei.
    E. High energy electromagnetic radiation, similar to light and x-rays.

    Check the answer

    The correct answer is E.

    Gamma rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, as are radio waves, light, and X-rays. Of these, only gamma radiation comes from the nucleus of an atom. X-rays are normally produced by bombarding a target with an electron beam, and can reach energy levels close to those associated with gamma rays.

  3. Compared to alpha and beta radiation, gamma radiation penetrates matter:
    A. The most.
    B. The least.
    C. About the same as other types of radiation.

    Check the answer

    The correct answer is A.

    Of the three types of radiation, gamma rays penetrate the most, and alpha radiation the least.

  4. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if an area produces a background radiation dose rate of 10 microrem per hour (87.6 millirem per year), then the allowable radiation dose to the public from DOE facilities would be:
    A. 2.4 millirem per year.
    B. 100 millirem per year.
    C. 5 rem per year.

    Check the answer

    The correct answer is B.

    The allowable public exposure limit is 100 millirem per year in addition to normal background radiation.

    Section 2, Part 1, (213) in the DOE Radiological Control Handbook gives, in table 2-1, 0.1 rem as the limit for whole body radiation to visitors and the public, and 5 rem whole body radiation as the limit for radiological workers. Note 3 to this table states, "Exposure due to background radiation, ...medical procedures, and voluntary participation in medical research programs shall not be included in either personnel radiation dose records, or assessment of dose against the limits of this table". In addition, it is stated that exposures shall be well below these limits, and as low as reasonably possible. Other limits are established for extremities, individual organs, and pregnant workers.

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