By Jeff C. Bryan

IntroductionRadiationAtomic StructureNuclear TransformationsNuclear StabilityIonizing RadiationA organic ThreatNatural and Anthropogenic RadiationThe Chart of the NuclidesQuestionsMathematics of Radioactive DecayAtomic lots and standard Atomic MassesNature of DecaySpecific ActivityDatingBranched DecayEquilibriaStatisticsQuestionsEnergy and the NucleusBinding EnergyTotal power of DecayDecay Read more...

summary: IntroductionRadiationAtomic StructureNuclear TransformationsNuclear StabilityIonizing RadiationA organic ThreatNatural and Anthropogenic RadiationThe Chart of the NuclidesQuestionsMathematics of Radioactive DecayAtomic lots and regular Atomic MassesNature of DecaySpecific ActivityDatingBranched DecayEquilibriaStatisticsQuestionsEnergy and the NucleusBinding EnergyTotal power of DecayDecay DiagramsQuestionsApplications of Nuclear technology I: strength and WeaponsNuclear PowerNuclear WeaponsNuclear ForensicsQuestionsRadioactive Decay: The Gory DetailsAlpha DecayBeta DecayPositron DecayElectron

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We are all exposed to naturally occurring ionizing radiation every minute of every day. Some are exposed to more than others, such as those that live at higher altitudes or in areas with relatively high concentrations of naturally occurring radioactive nuclides. There are no measurable negative health effects due to the extra exposure on the large populations of humans that live in these areas, despite the fact that background radiation doses vary by as much as a factor of 100. This suggests that our bodies can safely cope with low levels of ionizing radiation, and that there might be a threshold dose, below which no health effects can be anticipated.

Data recorded by detectors are given units for count rate, such as counts per minute (cpm). If it were possible to detect all of the decays from a source over time, then the decay rate, or activity, is being measured. Decay rate is often given units of decays per minute (dpm) or decays per second (dps). Those who work with radioactive materials often use count rate and decay rate interchangeably. This is understandable, since they are proportional to each other. Readers of this book would do well to know the difference.

7 × 1010 dps or the rate of decay of 1 g of 226Ra. 22 × 106 dpm) are often used for smaller sources. Remember that the milli prefix means 10 −3 and micro means 10 −6. The becquerel is named Henri Becquerel, the French physicist who is credited with the discovery of radioactivity. It is the Systéme International d’Units (SI) unit and is equal to 1 dps. This is a tiny value, so megabecquerels (MBq, 106 Bq) are often used. 00 μCi of radiation. 76 × 105 dpm, how long ago was it calibrated? 0 a In this example, it’s necessary to convert one of the two given activities to match the units of the other.

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