COMPARISON OF NATURAL BACKGROUND DOSE RATES FOR RESIDENTS OF THE AMARGOSA VALLEY, NV, TO THOSE IN LEADVILLE, CO, AND THE STATES OF COLORADO AND NEVADA

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In the latter half of 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) published a Proposed Rule (40 CFR Part 197) for establishing a dose rate standard for limiting radionuclide releases from the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste repository during the time period from 10{sup 4} to 10{sup 6} years after closure. The proposed standard was based on the difference in the estimated total dose rate from natural background in the Amargosa Valley and the ''average annual background radiation'' for the State of Colorado. As defined by the USEPA, ''natural background radiation consists of external exposures from cosmic and terrestrial ... continued below

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Sun, D. Moeller and L. C. February 24, 2006.

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In the latter half of 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) published a Proposed Rule (40 CFR Part 197) for establishing a dose rate standard for limiting radionuclide releases from the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste repository during the time period from 10{sup 4} to 10{sup 6} years after closure. The proposed standard was based on the difference in the estimated total dose rate from natural background in the Amargosa Valley and the ''average annual background radiation'' for the State of Colorado. As defined by the USEPA, ''natural background radiation consists of external exposures from cosmic and terrestrial sources, and internal exposures from indoor exposures to naturally-occurring radon''. On the basis of its assessments, the USEPA estimated that the difference in the dose rate in the two identified areas was 3.5 mSv y{sup -1}. The purpose of this review was to provide an independent evaluation and review of this estimate. One of the first observations was that, because site-specific dose rate measurements for the Amargosa Valley ''were not available'', the dose rates for various sources of natural background in that area, used by the USEPA in its assessment, were based on modifications of the average values for the State of Nevada. A second observation was that the conversion factor applied in estimating the dose rates due to exposures to indoor radon and its decay products was a factor of 2 higher than the currently accepted value. Further review revealed that site-specific data for many natural background sources in the Amargosa Valley were available. One particularly important observation was that about 91% of the residents of that area live in mobile homes which, due to their construction and design, have indoor radon concentrations comparable to, or less than, those outdoors. For that reason, alone, the USEPA estimate of the average dose rate for residents of the Amargosa Valley, due to indoor radon, was not valid. For purposes of the comparisons in this paper, site-specific dose rates were estimated for all major natural background sources of exposure to residents of the Amargosa Valley, and those in Leadville, CO. The latter community was selected for comparison because of its altitude (3,200 m) and accompanying high cosmic radiation dose rate, and the fact the size of its population is comparable to that of Amargosa Valley. For completeness, similar comparisons of the estimated dose rate in the Amargosa Valley to those for residents of Leadville, CO, the States of Colorado and Nevada. The estimated dose rates in Leadville, the State of Colorado, and the State of Nevada, were higher than those in the Amargosa Valley by 4.09, 2.62, and 1.01 mSv y{sup -1}, respectively. Associated uncertainties were highest for the estimated dose rates due to exposures to radon and its decay products. The overall uncertainty in the dose estimates, including the errors in the radon dose coefficient, could be as high as 142%.

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  • Report No.: n/a
  • Grant Number: DE-AC08-91RW00134
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 883068
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc874684

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  • February 24, 2006

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 7:50 p.m.

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Sun, D. Moeller and L. C. COMPARISON OF NATURAL BACKGROUND DOSE RATES FOR RESIDENTS OF THE AMARGOSA VALLEY, NV, TO THOSE IN LEADVILLE, CO, AND THE STATES OF COLORADO AND NEVADA, article, February 24, 2006; Las Vegas, Nevada. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc874684/: accessed September 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.