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Radiation Quantities & Units


Henri Becquerel 1852-1908

Quantities and Units of Activity The activity of a radioisotope may be described as the number of atomic transformations per unit time within that radioisotope. SI unit is the becquerel (Bq)

Quantity: Activity

Unit: becquerel (Bq)

Activity 1 Bq = 1 disintegration per second

Activity concentration: becquerels per cubic metre becquerels per litre

Specific activity: Activity concentration of a specific radionuclide

e.g. specific activity for cobalt-60 is 1.18E+15 Bq/g

Multiples & prefixes (Activity)

Multiple Abbreviation 1 1,000.000 1,000,000,000 1,000,000,000,000 Prefix Mega (M) Giga (G) Tera (T) Bq MBq GBq TBq

Radioactive Decay and Half-life(T)

Radioactive emissions result from the decay (or transformation) of unstable nuclei. The rate of decay of a radioisotope is characteristic of the particular radionuclide. The time it takes for half of the atoms to decay is called the half-life (T). After one half-life the activity within the material will be half its original value; after two half-lives the activity will be one quarter.

Half-Life, T
The time taken for half of the total number of radioactive nuclei to decay Cannot be changed by external
factors Characteristic of the radionuclide Half-lives range from fractions of a second to billions of years

T =

ln 2


Exponential decay


A = A0



A = activity at time t A0 = activity when t=0

Half Lives
Phosphorus-32 Iridium-192 Cobalt-60 Caesium-137 Carbon-14 Uranium-238 14.3 days 74 days 5.25 years 13 years 5760 years 4.5 x 109 years

Dose (1)
Absorbed dose (Gy) Energy deposited in tissue

SI unit of absorbed dose is the Gray , measured in J/kg

Harold Gray 1905-1965

Equivalent Dose
The equivalent dose in tissue T is given by the expression:
HT =



where DT,R is the absorbed dose averaged over the tissue or organ T, due to radiation R.

Equivalent Dose
In radiological protection, it is the absorbed dose averaged over a tissue or organ It is weighted for the radiation quality of interest The weighting factor is called the radiation weighting factor, WR

WR is selected for the type and energy of the radiation incident on the body
This weighted absorbed dose, called the equivalent dose, is strictly a dose The unit of equivalent dose is the joule per kilogram with the special name of sievert (Sv)

Equivalent Dose

Radiation Weighting Factors

Type and Energy Range Photons: all energies Electrons and muons: all energies Neutrons: energy < 10 keV Neutrons: 10 keV to 100 keV Neutrons: > 100 keV to 2 MeV wR 1 1 5 10 20

Radiation Weighting Factors

Type and Energy Range
Neutrons: > 2 MeV to 20 MeV Neutrons: > 20 MeV Protons: > 2 MeV

10 5 5

Alpha particles, fission fragments, heavy nuclei


The equivalent dose rate, HT, is the quotient of dHT by dt, where dHT is the increment of equivalent dose in the time . interval dt, thus: dH HT = dt The unit is J kg-1 s-1 and the special name for the unit of equivalent dose rate is sievert per second (Sv s-1)

Equivalent Dose Rate .

Rolf Sievert (1896-1966)

Dose (3)
Effective Dose (Sv)
Effective dose is the sum of the equivalent dose to each organ multiplied by the appropriate tissue weighting factor. May be considered to be the whole-body radiation dose

Tissue Weighting Factors

Represent the relative contribution of irradiation of each organ or tissue to the total detriment due to the effects resulting from uniform irradiation of the whole body

Tissue Weighting Factors

Desirable that a uniform equivalent dose over the whole body should give an effective dose numerically equal to that uniform equivalent dose
Achieved by normalizing the sum of the tissue weighting factors to one

Tissue Weighting Factors

Tissue or Organ Gonads Bone marrow (red) Colon Lung Stomach Bladder Breast WT 0.20 0.12 0.12 0.12 0.12 0.05 0.05 Tissue or Organ Liver Oesophagus Thyroid Skin Bone surface Remainder WT 0.05 0.05 0.05 0.01 0.01 0.05

Tissue Weighting Factors Remainder Organs

Adrenals Upper large Intestine Small Intestine Kidney Pancreas Brain Spleen Thymus Uterus Muscle

Equivalent dose Effective dose

He = wr * D D: absorbed dose (Gy), wr : radiation weighting factor (1-20) Heff=wT*He He: equivalent dose (Sv), wT: tissue weighting factor (0.05-0.20)

Unit: Sv (sievert)

Fractions & prefixes (Dose)

Fraction 1 1/1000 1/1,000,000 Prefix milli (m) micro () Abbreviation Sv mSv Sv


Dose - rate = Dose/Time

Example :
Sv/hour mSv/hour

Non-SI Units
Quantity Activity Old unit curie (Ci) SI unit becquerel (Bq) Conversion 1 Ci=3.7 x 1010Bq

Absorbed Dose Equivalent Dose


gray (Gy)

1 rad = 0.01 Gy


sievert (Sv)

1 rem = 0.01 Sv

Maria Curie 1867-1934

1 Ci

= 37,000,000,000 Bq which can be written as 37 x 109 Bq or 37 GBq or 0.037 TBq


Quantities and units Activity Becquerel Absorbed dose Gray Equivalent dose Sievert Effective dose Sievert Non SI units Curie, rad, rem Dose rate

Operational Quantities
For radiation measurement purposes, the following operational quantities are defined:
Ambient dose equivalent Directional dose equivalent Personal dose equivalent

Operational Quantities
Where doses are estimated from area monitoring results, the relevant operational quantities are ambient dose equivalent and directional dose equivalent

For individual monitoring, the use of the personal dose equivalent is recommended

Ambient Dose Equivalent

For measurement of strongly penetrating radiations, the reference depth is 10 mm and the quantity denoted as H*(10).
The unit is J kg-1 The special name for the unit of ambient dose equivalent is sievert (Sv)

Directional Dose Equivalent

Directional dose equivalent is of particular use in the assessment of dose to the skin or eye lens

The unit is J kg-1

The special name for the unit of directional dose equivalent is sievert (Sv)

Personal Dose Equivalent

The personal dose equivalent, Hp(d), is the dose equivalent in soft tissue, at an appropriate depth d, below a specified point on the body, Hp(d) can be measured with a dosimeter which is worn at the surface of the body and covered with an appropriate thickness of tissue-equivalent material

Personal Dose Equivalent

The unit is J kg-1 The special name for the unit of personal dose equivalent is sievert (Sv) Hp(10), measured at a depth of 10 mm in soft tissue, is the operational surrogate for the effective dose, E


Quantities and units Activity Becquerel Absorbed dose Gray Equivalent dose Sievert Effective dose Sievert Non SI units Curie, rad, rem Dose rate

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