Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Publication details

Bailiff, I.K., Sholom, S. & McKeever, S.W.S. (2016). Retrospective and emergency dosimetry in response to radiological incidents and nuclear mass-casualty events: A review. Radiation Measurements 94: 83-139.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This paper reviews recent research on the application of the physical dosimetry techniques of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and luminescence (optically stimulated luminescence, OSL, and thermoluminescence, TL) to determine radiation dose following catastrophic, large-scale radiological events. Such data are used in dose reconstruction to obtain estimates of dose due to the exposure to external sources of radiation, primarily gamma radiation, by individual members of the public and by populations. The EPR and luminescence techniques have been applied to a wide range of radiological studies, including nuclear bomb detonation (e.g., Hiroshima and Nagasaki), nuclear power plant accidents (e.g., Chernobyl), radioactive pollution (e.g., Mayak plutonium facility), and in the future could include terrorist events involving the dispersal of radioactive materials. In this review we examine the application of these techniques in ‘emergency’ and ‘retrospective’ modes of operation that are conducted on two distinct timescales. For emergency dosimetry immediate action to evaluate dose to individuals following radiation exposure is required to assess deterministic biological effects and to enable rapid medical triage. Retrospective dosimetry, on the other hand, contributes to the reconstruction of doses to populations and individuals following external exposure, and contributes to the long-term study of stochastic processes and the consequential epidemiological effects. Although internal exposure, via ingestion of radionuclides for example, can be a potentially significant contributor to dose, this review is confined to those dose components arising from exposure to external radiation, which in most studies is gamma radiation.

The nascent emergency dosimetry measurement techniques aim to perform direct dose evaluations for individuals who, as members of the public, are most unlikely to be carrying a dosimeter issued for radiation monitoring purposes in the event of a radiation incident. Hence attention has focused on biological or physical materials they may have in their possession that could be used as surrogate dosimeters. For EPR measurements, in particular, this includes material within the body (such as bone or tooth biopsy) requiring invasive procedures, but also materials collected non-invasively (such as clippings taken from finger- or toenails) and artefacts within their personal belongings (such as electronic devices of which smart phones are the most common). For luminescence measurements, attention has also focused on components within electronic devices, including smartphones, and a wide range of other personal belongings such as paper and other polymer-based materials (including currency, clothing, bank cards, etc.). The paper reviews progress made using both EPR and luminescence techniques, along with their current limitations.

For the longer-established approach of retrospective dosimetry, luminescence has been the most extensively applied method and, by employing minerals found in construction materials, it consequently is employed in dosimetry using structures within the environment. Recent developments in its application to large-scale radiation releases are discussed, including the atomic bomb detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fallout from the Chernobyl reactor and atmospheric nuclear bomb tests within the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and fluvially transported pollution within the Techa River basin due to releases from the Mayak facility. The developments made in applying OSL and TL techniques are discussed in the context of these applications. EPR measurements with teeth have also provided benchmark values to test the dosimetry models used for Chernobyl liquidators (clean-up workers), residents of Semipalatinsk Nuclear Tests Sites and inhabitants of the Techa River basin.

For both emergency and retrospective dosimetry applications, computational techniques employing radiation transport simulations based on Monte Carlo code form an essential component in the application of dose determinations by EPR and OSL to dose reconstruction problems. We include in the review examples where the translation from the physical quantity of cumulative dose determined in the sampled medium to a dose quantity that can be applied in the reconstruction of dose to individuals and/or populations; these take into account the source terms, release patterns and the movements of people in the affected areas. One role for retrospective luminescence dosimetry has been to provide benchmark dose determinations for testing the models employed in dose reconstruction for exposed populations, notably at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The discussion is framed within the context of the well-known radiation incidents mentioned above.

Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China