Estimation of Radiation Doses in the Marshall Islands Based on Whole Body Counting of Cesium-137 (137Cs) and Plutonium Urinalysis

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Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have recently implemented a series of initiatives to address long-term radiological surveillance needs at former nuclear test sites in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The aim of this radiological surveillance monitoring program (RSMP) is to provide timely radiation protection for individuals in the Marshall Islands with respect to two of the most important internally deposited fallout radionuclides-cesium-137 ({sup 137}Cs) and long-lived isotopes 239 and 240 of plutonium ({sup 239+240}Pu) (Robison et al., 1997 and references therein). Therefore, whole-body counting for ... continued below

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Daniels, J; Hickman, D; Kehl, S & Hamilton, T June 11, 2007.

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Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have recently implemented a series of initiatives to address long-term radiological surveillance needs at former nuclear test sites in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The aim of this radiological surveillance monitoring program (RSMP) is to provide timely radiation protection for individuals in the Marshall Islands with respect to two of the most important internally deposited fallout radionuclides-cesium-137 ({sup 137}Cs) and long-lived isotopes 239 and 240 of plutonium ({sup 239+240}Pu) (Robison et al., 1997 and references therein). Therefore, whole-body counting for {sup 137}Cs and a sensitive bioassay for the presence of {sup 239+240}Pu excreted in urine were adopted as the two most applicable in vivo analytical methods to assess radiation doses for individuals in the RMI from internally deposited fallout radionuclides (see Hamilton et al., 2006a-c; Bell et al., 2002). Through 2005, the USDOE has established three permanent whole-body counting facilities in the Marshall Islands: the Enewetak Radiological Laboratory on Enewetak Atoll, the Utrok Whole-Body Counting Facility on Majuro Atoll, and the Rongelap Whole-Body Counting Facility on Rongelap Atoll. These whole-body counting facilities are operated and maintained by trained Marshallese technicians. Scientists from LLNL provide the technical support and training necessary for maintaining quality assurance for data acquisition and dose reporting. This technical basis document summarizes the methodologies used to calculate the annual total effective dose equivalent (TEDE; or dose for the calendar year of measurement) based on whole-body counting of internally deposited {sup 137}Cs and the measurement of {sup 239+240}Pu excreted in urine. Whole-body counting provides a direct measure of the total amount (or burden) of {sup 137}Cs present in the human body at the time of measurement. The amount of {sup 137}Cs detected is often reported in activity units of kilo-Becquerel (kBq), where 1 kBq equals 1000 Bq and 1 Bq = 1 nuclear transformation per second (t s{sup -1}). [However, in the United States the Curie (Ci) continues to be used as the unit of radioactivity; where 1 Ci = 3.7 x 10{sup 10} Bq.] The detection of {sup 239}Pu and {sup 240}Pu in bioassay (urine) samples indicates the presence of internally deposited (systemic) plutonium in the body. Urine samples that are collected in the Marshall Islands from volunteers participating in the RSMP are transported to LLNL, where measurements for {sup 239+240}Pu are performed using a state-of-the-art technology based on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) (Hamilton et al., 2004, 2007; Brown et al., 2004). The urinary excretion of plutonium by RSMP volunteers is usually described in activity units, expressed as micro-Becquerel ({micro}Bq) of {sup 239+240}Pu (i.e., representing the sum of the {sup 239}Pu and {sup 240}Pu activity) excreted (lost) per day (d{sup -1}), where 1 {micro}Bq d{sup -1} = 10{sup -6} Bq d{sup -1} and 1 Bq = 1 t s{sup -1}. The systemic burden of plutonium is then estimated from biokinetic relationships as described by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (e.g., see ICRP, 1990). In general, nuclear transformations are accompanied by the emission of energy and/or particles in the form of gamma rays ({gamma}), beta particles ({beta}), and/or alpha particles ({alpha}). Tissues in the human body may adsorb these emissions, where there is a potential for any deposited energy to cause biological damage. The general term used to quantify the extent of any radiation exposure is referred to as the dose. The equivalent dose is defined by the average absorbed dose in an organ or tissue weighted by the average quality factor for the type and energy of the emission causing the dose. The effective dose equivalent (EDE; as applied to the whole body), is the sum of the average dose equivalent for each tissue weighted by each applicable tissue-specific weighing factor (which equates to the sensitivity of that tissue to damage by the equivalent radiation dose it receives). The SI unit of effective dose equivalent is the joule per kilogram (J kg{sup -1}), named the Sievert (Sv). The unit often used by federal and state agencies in the United States to describe EDE continues to be the more historical radiation equivalent man (rem); where 1 rem = 0.01 Sv.

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-231680
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/923133 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 923133
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc899686

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  • June 11, 2007

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 28, 2016, 1:19 p.m.

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Daniels, J; Hickman, D; Kehl, S & Hamilton, T. Estimation of Radiation Doses in the Marshall Islands Based on Whole Body Counting of Cesium-137 (137Cs) and Plutonium Urinalysis, report, June 11, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc899686/: accessed November 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.