Results of Self-Absorption Study on the Versapor 3000 Filters for Radioactive Particulate Air Sampling

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Since the mid-1980s, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has used a value of 0.85 as the correction factor for self absorption of activity for particulate radioactive air samples collected from building exhaust for environmental monitoring. This value accounts for activity that cannot be detected by direct counting of alpha and beta particles. Emissions can be degraded or blocked by filter fibers for particles buried in the filter material or by inactive dust particles collected with the radioactive particles. These filters are used for monitoring air emissions from PNNL stacks for radioactive particles. This paper describes an effort to re-evaluate self-absorption ... continued below

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Barnett, J. M.; Cullinan, Valerie I.; Barnett, Debra S.; Trang-Le, Truc LT; Bliss, Mary; Greenwood, Lawrence R. et al. February 17, 2009.

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Since the mid-1980s, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has used a value of 0.85 as the correction factor for self absorption of activity for particulate radioactive air samples collected from building exhaust for environmental monitoring. This value accounts for activity that cannot be detected by direct counting of alpha and beta particles. Emissions can be degraded or blocked by filter fibers for particles buried in the filter material or by inactive dust particles collected with the radioactive particles. These filters are used for monitoring air emissions from PNNL stacks for radioactive particles. This paper describes an effort to re-evaluate self-absorption effects in particulate radioactive air sample filters (Versapor® 3000, 47 mm diameter) used at PNNL. There were two methods used to characterize the samples. Sixty samples were selected from the archive for acid digestion to compare the radioactivity measured by direct gas-flow proportional counting of filters to the results obtained after acid digestion of the filter and counting again by gas-flow proportional detection. Thirty different sample filters were selected for visible light microscopy to evaluate filter loading and particulate characteristics. Mass-loading effects were also considered. Filter ratios were calculated by dividing the initial counts by the post-digestion counts with the expectation that post-digestion counts would be higher because digestion would expose radioactivity embedded in the filter in addition to that on top of the filter. Contrary to expectations, the post digestion readings were almost always lower than initial readings and averaged approximately half the initial readings for both alpha and beta activity. Before and after digestion readings appeared to be related to each other, but with a low coefficient of determination (R^2) value. The ratios had a wide range of values indicating that this method did not provide sufficient precision to quantify self-absorption effects. The microscopy analysis compares different filter loadings and shows that smaller particle sizes (under 10 micron) can readily be seen on the more lightly loaded filters. At higher loadings, however, the particle size is harder to differentiate. This study provides data on actual stack emission samples showing a range of mass loading conditions and visual evidence of particle size and distribution and also presents the difficulties in quantifying self-absorption effects using actual samples.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-SA-62011 Rev. 1
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/949086 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 949086
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928429

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  • February 17, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 9, 2016, 6:59 p.m.

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Barnett, J. M.; Cullinan, Valerie I.; Barnett, Debra S.; Trang-Le, Truc LT; Bliss, Mary; Greenwood, Lawrence R. et al. Results of Self-Absorption Study on the Versapor 3000 Filters for Radioactive Particulate Air Sampling, report, February 17, 2009; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928429/: accessed August 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.