Radiation Doses to Hanford Workers from Natural Potassium-40

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The chemical element potassium is an essential mineral in people and is subject to homeostatic regulation. Natural potassium comprises three isotopes, 39K, 40K, and 41K. Potassium-40 is radioactive, with a half life of 1.248 billion years. In most transitions, it emits a β particle with a maximum energy of 0.560 MeV, and sometimes a gamma photon of 1.461 MeV. Because it is ubiquitous, 40K produces radiation dose to all human beings. This report contains the results of new measurements of 40K in 248 adult females and 2,037 adult males performed at the Department of Energy Hanford Site in 2006 and ... continued below

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Strom, Daniel J.; Lynch, Timothy P. & Weier, Dennis R. February 13, 2009.

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The chemical element potassium is an essential mineral in people and is subject to homeostatic regulation. Natural potassium comprises three isotopes, 39K, 40K, and 41K. Potassium-40 is radioactive, with a half life of 1.248 billion years. In most transitions, it emits a β particle with a maximum energy of 0.560 MeV, and sometimes a gamma photon of 1.461 MeV. Because it is ubiquitous, 40K produces radiation dose to all human beings. This report contains the results of new measurements of 40K in 248 adult females and 2,037 adult males performed at the Department of Energy Hanford Site in 2006 and 2007. Potassium concentrations diminish with age, are generally lower in women than in men, and decrease with body mass index (BMI). The average annual effective dose from 40K in the body is 0.149 mSv y−1 for men and 0.123 mSv y−1 women respectively. Averaged over both men and women, the average effective dose per year is 0.136 mSv y−1. Calculated effective doses range from 0.069 to 0.243 mSv y−1 for adult males, and 0.067 to 0.203 mSv y−1 for adult females, a roughly three-fold variation for each gender. The need for dosimetric phantoms with a greater variety of BMI values should be investigated. From our data, it cannot be determined whether the potassium concentration in muscle in people with large BMI values differs from that in people with small BMI values. Similarly, it would be important to know the potassium concentration in other soft tissues, since much of the radiation dose is due to beta radiation, in which the source and target tissues are the same. These uncertainties should be evaluated to determine their consequences for dosimetry.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-18240
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/948400 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 948400
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc900878

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  • February 13, 2009

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 6:10 p.m.

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Strom, Daniel J.; Lynch, Timothy P. & Weier, Dennis R. Radiation Doses to Hanford Workers from Natural Potassium-40, report, February 13, 2009; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc900878/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.